Yates County investigating fire caused by chinese lantern

The Yates County Sheriff’s Office is investigating a fire that destroyed a part of a wooden dock at 7925 West Buff Drive in the town of Jerusalem July 4th.At 1:36 am Deputies and the Branchport – KP Fire Dept were dispatched to the fire. Renters at the premises were notified by a passing boater of the fire and they called 911. The fire damaged several foot wooden section of the dock and railing where it connects to the stairs at the shoreline. The renters put a stop to the fire by dumping lake water onto it. Investigation by deputies and the Fire Chief concluded, based on debris at the scene, that a Sky Lantern someone unknown had launched celebrating July 4th had landed thereon causing the fire to erupt. The property owner is William Goulburn, Rochester, NY. And the damage is over $1,000.According the Sheriff Ron Spike, “When a sky lantern lands with a flame still alight it can ignite its paper and the surrounding area can catch a fire.” Sky Lanterns are often referred to a “Chinese Lanterns.” They are constructed from oiled rice paper on a bamboo frame, and contain a small candle or fuel cell composed of a waxy flammable material encased in a metal ring. When lit, the flame heats the air inside the lantern, thus lowering its density causing the lantern to rise into the air. They are known to travel significant distance from the point of release via the air currents which creates a serious fire and safety hazard because of the potential to start an unintended fire.The NYS Office of Fire Prevention and Control holds the opinion that sky lanterns meet the definition of Recreational Fires, as defined in Section 302.1 of the Fire Code and consequently, these devices require constant attendance as required in Section 307.5 of the Fire Code. Therefore, unless anchored or tethered, OFPC is of the opinion that sky lanterns cannot be constantly attended and thus present a violation of the Fire Code of New York State.

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