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Abercrombie approves law banning sky lanterns

By Star-Advertiser staff

LAST UPDATED: 5:11 a.m. HST, Jul 11, 2012

Aerial luminaries, also known as sky lanterns, are no longer legal to own, buy, sell or use under a bill signed into law by Gov. Neil Abercrombie Tuesday.

Hawaii’s fire  department  officials have raised strong objections to the lanterns from the time fireworks merchants began selling them locally for the 2011 New Year’s celebration, calling them a hazardous item capable of igniting fires.

The lanterns feature a candle which creates heat that causes a paper balloon to inflate and rise as high as several hundred feet into the air. Fire officials said they worry because there is no way to control where the lanterns go or land, creating the potential for the attached candles to spark fires in the open environment.

Merchants argued that the lanterns are safe because they do not land until their candles are extinguished, eliminating any potential for setting fires.

Violating the new ban will constitute a misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, a $1,000 fine or both.

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