A tragic fire engulfed a monkey house containing apes and monkeys at the Krefeld Zoo, in Krefeld, Germany. People reported seeing lit sky lanterns floating at low altitudes near the zoo the night of the fire. Sky lanterns are illegal in Germany and they are considered a fire hazard.
According to the Krefled Zoo’s Facebook page, 30 animals died including orangutans, gorillas, a chimpanzee, and monkeys. A later update from the zoo did confirm that two chimpanzees survived the fire and are now in good shape.
What are Sky Lanterns
Sky lanterns, also known as Chinese lanterns or wish lanterns, are made of paper over a bamboo skeleton. They are used at festivals and celebrations, being released also at parties and weddings. Sky lanterns have been a tradition in China and Asia dating back centuries.
Because of their beauty and association with celebrations, sky lanterns are catching on in many different countries. They are usually released at night and are quite a spectacle, as the fire inside the lanterns lights up the night sky.
Are Sky Lanterns a Fire Hazard?
Sky lanterns have a fire source inside the lantern, usually a fuel cell or fuel pad. The fire is lit before releasing the lanterns into the air. This makes sky lanterns basically hot air balloons made of paper. The paper is supposed to be fire-resistant, but there are incidents before of sky lanterns causing fires or being a fire hazard.
In 2015, a cell tower caught on fire after the wind blew several sky lanterns into the tower in Gastonia, NC, according to Spectrum News. It took 20 firefighters to put out the fire, according to the report.
Sky Lantern Safety
Commercially available sky lanterns are fire-resistant, so you if you’re looking at buying sky lanterns for your celebration, make sure these are fire-resistant.
When releasing sky lanterns, make sure you release them on a calm night. If it’s very windy, the wind might blow out the hot air out of the lantern, causing it to plummet down and cause a fire if it hits something flammable. Sky lanterns can float up as high as one mile into the sky, and they can stay afloat for up to 20 minutes. So never release sky lanterns on windy days.
Needless to say, do not release the sky lanterns near sensitive areas like airports. Always have a fire extinguisher nearby in case of fire. In the tragic German zoo fire, witnesses reported seeing sky lanterns flying near the zoo that night.