Although they may be pretty, readers PLEASE don’t buy Chinese Sky Lanterns in Fethiye – they are illegal. They can, and have, caused fires.
Sky Lanterns, also known as Chinese lanterns, Kongming Lanterns or Sky Balloons, originated in Asia and have been made for centuries. They are lightweight paper pockets with a gap at the bottom where a cradle holds a candle. They essentially work on the same principle as a hot air balloon and could be likened to a mini, uncontrollable version. Hot air rises so once lit, the density of the air is lowered by the rising heat from the flame allowing the lantern to rise and drift off into the air. It is then carried away in the wind and can drift 100’s of meters from their point of origin depending on the breeze. They normally stay airborne until the flame goes out at which point they fall back down to earth. In most lantern designs, if the lantern stays upright, the paper doesn’t get hot enough to ignite. But, say a freak gust of wind tilts the lantern and the paper is hit by the naked flame, the lantern will burn quickly and fall to earth at whatever point it has reached, most probably with the candle still lit. This is why it is so important not to buy these lanterns, especially in arid and dry countries like Turkey. They do cause fires and in some cases the results have been devastating.
It would only take a spark or mindless cigarette butt thrown into the shrubbery to ignite a fire in Fethiye during the arid summer months.
It is an unfortunate reality that each year the locals of Fethiye witness sea planes and helicopters working tirelessly to try and dampen local forest fires. Many visiting the area, and often many thoughtless locals, give little thought to fire hazards given how arid and dry Fethiye is during the summer months. One of the beauties of living in Fethiye is looking out of your property in Turkey at the dense, pine forest clad mountains. If we open the doors to our air-conditioned office overlooking Fethiye bay, the summer heat just hits you. We are now fully into the summer season. I’m guessing the outside temperature in Central Fethiye this morning is mid thirties and weather reports are suggesting it will creep up well over 40 degrees over the weekend. We are unlikely to see much rainfall until September, two months away. It would only take a spark, or mindless cigarette butt thrown into the shrubbery to ignite a fire, let alone a Chinese lantern blown to earth sill lit by a gust of wind.
Biggest fire in the history of the West Midlands caused by a Chinese Lantern.
Chinese lanterns are not just a fire hazard in Turkey. On July 1st 2013 a Plastic Recycling Plant in Smethwick, UK went up in flames due to a sky lantern. Some may remember this fire as is was widely reported in the UK’s national press as the “biggest fire ever” in the West Midlands. Local CCTV cameras captured images of a lit sky lantern landing on the factory and igniting the 100,000 tonnes of recycling material that resulted in an estimated 6 million pounds worth of damage. Following the incident, many UK retailers put a stop to selling the lanterns due to the fire risks. This started a UK campaign to stop the sale of sky balloons and a UK code of practice put in place covering their manufacture, sale and use in the country.
So, to sum up,
HELP US REDUCE THE RISK OF FOREST FIRES THIS SUMMER… PLEASE DON’T BUY CHINESE SKY LANTERNS IN FETHIYE.