Fire dangers posed by sky lanterns and fireworks

2:27 PM, Jun 27, 2012   |    comments
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By Grant Bissell

Wildwood, MO (KSDK) - The dry weather is bad news for those big Fourth of July plans. All fireworks can be dangerous in these conditions. But there's one novelty in particular causing concern this year.

The City of Rolla Fire & Rescue announced Wednesday that they are banning the use of sky lanterns within city limits due to the extreme dry and drought like conditions.

The Metro West Fire Protection District is also worried about sky lanterns. They're not technically fireworks, but they are illegal in St. Louis and St. Louis County.

The packaging warns users not launch the lantern in winds stronger than five miles per hour, which is basically a light breeze. And maybe the biggest concern is the chunk of flaming material dangling from the bottom.

"Basically you're unleashing a flammable torch into the sky with zero control over where it's going to go," said Deputy Chief Mike Krause. "They're unpredictable and at the end of the day the fun that you have could end in tragedy by an injury or you could wind up burning someone's house down or worse."

But sky lanterns aren't the only concern for firefighters.

"We see a lot of burns from sparklers every year," said Krause. "I think parents and people in general think that because they're not projectiles that they may be safer. But in actuality they may be one of the most dangerous fireworks that ever existed."

Krause says his department sees a higher number of calls every year around the Fourth of July. And there's only one way to avoid an accident in your own backyard.

"We just urge everyone to use common sense and seek out the professional displays and avoid using fireworks at all."

NewsChannel 5 checked with a number of cities and towns in the St. Louis area to make sure they're still planning to have their professional displays. Right now they all say yes, but they're all taking extra precautions to make sure things don't get out of control. 


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