Photo by Stephane Bidouze/

Flying lanterns now banned in Kawartha Lakes

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Watching dozens of glowing paper lanterns soaring over a lake might be a beautiful spectacle, but it’s also dangerous, says one cottage town’s city council.

The Kawartha Lakes city council has recently voted to ban the use and purchase of flying lanterns across the municipality.

“Flying Lanterns may look pretty but there is an extreme fire risk associated with them,” said Kawartha Lakes fire chief, Mark Pankhurst, in a statement.

Also called sky lanterns, flying lanterns have been launched for centuries in celebrations and festivals. Although its origins are in China, the tiny hot air balloons are popular in Taiwan, Thailand, India, parts of South America, and increasingly, in Canada.

Flying lanterns stay afloat as long as the flame burns and naturally extinguish on their own. But council is worried of the repercussions if a blazing lantern ends up in a forested area.

“Kawartha Lakes covers more than 3,000-square-kilometres and we have a lot of wooded and rural areas that could be adversely impacted if one of these flying lanterns landed in a hard-to-reach area,” said Pankhurst. “This ban is following a trend by a number of municipalities to prohibit the sale and use of flying lanterns.”

In Canada, the lanterns have been banned in Saskatoon, Nova Scotia, Prince Edward Island, and Newfoundland. In Windsor, Ont., the fire department is trying to prohibit the lanterns after one got stuck in a tree downtown while still ablaze this past summer.

In 2012, the Ontario Fire Marshall proclaimed that the lanterns pose a serious fire risk.

“Due to their uncontrolled and unpredictable flight path, the lanterns can land on trees, building rooftops, or other combustible properties, while still ignited, and potentially cause,” the Fire Marshal said in a 2012 statement.


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