LaSalle couple find charred sky lantern adjacent to house

LaSalle couple find charred sky lantern adjacent to house - Peter and Jean Glass were feeling lucky Monday morning that their home was undamaged after they discovered a partially charred sky lantern in their front yard.

Peter, 85, and Jean, 83, have lived in their white wood-sided house on Huron Church Line since they built it in 1951.

He said he stumbled across the lantern resting against the house just outside their bedroom window around 8 a.m. when he went outside to get their Windsor Star.

“I thought my wife had covered the plants up in case of frost,” Peter said of his first thought when he saw the large yellow lantern sitting on top of a hanging flower basket. Then he saw the burnt paper and charred wires.

“I didn’t know what it was at first,” Jean said. “It’s a concern. You never know, it (could have started the house on fire).”

“I don’t know why or how our house didn’t catch on fire,” Peter said. “I think these things are dangerous. They shouldn’t be flying those things around.

“I guess we were lucky.”

LaSalle fire service Chief Dave Sutton said he’s working on a draft revision of the town’s fireworks bylaw which would include a ban on flying lanterns — also known as Chinese, sky or fire lanterns.

Similar to a hot air balloon, the lanterns are powered by the heat generated by a fuel source. Sutton said there are a couple of variations, using a wad of paper or cloth impregnated with a Sterno-type liquid or gel that can burn for several minutes. Once they are released, there’s no way to control them.

“It’s safe to say they are a concern across the province,” Sutton said. “The fire marshal’s office has issued notices on them a couple of times in recent years. And I think they’re gaining in prevalence and use again.

“I’m in support of banning them. I do believe there’s a hazard there that needs to be recognized.”

And although the chief said he is not aware of any instances where a flying lantern has caused structural damage he did say that “anytime you set something alight with a burning fuel source without any control or tether … it’s always a concern.”

Windsor fire service Chief Bruce Montone said the Ontario Fire Code covers flying lanterns under its restrictions on open burning. Open burning is not allowed unless approved by the chief fire official.

“So we feel that we already have the legislative authority to not allow them, which we have not allowed them for quite some time,” Montone said. “Probably the most popular use is weddings and so we’ve worked with the various banquet halls, etc., that host those kinds of events and done some education with them to help them deal with their patrons who want to use them and it seems to be working.

Montone said there have been no recent problems with the flying lanterns in Windsor.

“The odd time we will hear about something … when we do hear about it we deal with it just like we deal with any other fire code violation … we’ll be there to pay you a visit.”

Montone said a summons to appear in court would be issued. The maximum penalty upon conviction is a $50,000 for an individual, $100,000 for a company and/or one year in jail for any violation of the fire code.

He said a first offence would probably net a fine in the “hundreds of dollars.”

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