Please don’t buy Chinese Sky Lanterns in Fethiye this summer


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.  

Chinese Lantern Photo by Joanne Munro at Flickr
Photo by Joanne Munro at Flickr

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,


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2 thoughts on “Please don’t buy Chinese Sky Lanterns in Fethiye this summer”

  • oceanwide

    Thanks you all for the great response we have had on this post. The post has been shared on Facebook and social media many times and received lot’s of comments. It is a topic that many people in Fethiye, and elsewhere, obviously feel very passionate about. Some comments we received include trying to raise the awareness of the fire risks caused by Chinese Lanterns and how to get the local council to take action against the sellers of the sky balloons. Although the sale of these lanterns is illegal in the area, unfortunately this law is largely overlooked by the authorities (the same applies with fake goods), and vendors keep popping up – most recently along the sea front in Calis. We are now exploring what we can do to help. We plan to speak to the local authorities, media and explore setting up a petition against the sale of Chinese Lanterns. Check Oceanwide Properties News site regularly or Like us and follow us on Facebook as we are determined to try and do something to help limit the possible fire risks as well as risks to wildlife and animals that these air balloons could cause. Thanks again for your support.

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