BC firefighters warn against floating lanterns amid wildfire season

By Marina Wang

British Columbian firefighters have taken to social media to warn against releasing floating lanterns amid the coast’s desiccating drought.

Floating lanterns are made of a paper shell with an open flame in the center. The hot air inside allows the lantern to float like a hot air balloon, but the lanterns can get caught on trees or buildings before burning out. At least three lanterns were found on Vancouver Island last week, one of which landed in a tree in a resident’s backyard. Luckily, the lanterns did not start any fires.

“Due to the extreme dry conditions in our community we are a little perplexed as to why some people in the EagleCrest area are lighting lanterns and sending them adrift to land in people’s yards, on roofs and in the trees,” reads a post from the Qualicum Beach fire department on Vancouver Island. “This is highly dangerous should these lanterns get caught up in trees or peoples yards. You are putting others at risk and we will not give anyone a break found lighting and launching these lanterns. There is a fire ban on… for all fires.” According to the Qualicum Beach fire department, most of the local fires are man-made.

One commenter on Facebook who had a floating lantern land in a tree in their back yard wrote that “It was pretty ridiculous to have to worry about our back yard catching fire as embers fell from it. I’m so thankful to the good Samaritan that saw them land from the road and knocked on our doors to alert us.”

The incident arose following the province issuing a severe drought advisory for the entirety of the British Columbian coast. Wildfires are currently raging in the Alkali Lake and South Stikine River areas in Northwestern B.C. and are on course to merge. Meanwhile more wildfires continues to blaze near Port Alberni and Nanaimo Lakes on Vancouver Island.