Lanterns a fire risk in snow-free Oslo

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Emergency authorities in Oslo have urged revelers not to light and release paper lanterns into the sky on New Year’s Eve. The Oslo Fire and Rescue service warned the flaming paper lanterns pose a major risk because they can’t be controlled and don’t always go out before they land.

PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

The Oslo Fire and Rescue Authority says paper lanterns are prohibited because they constitute an uncontrollable outdoor fire. Their sale could be banned when the Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (DSB) makes new recommendations next year. PHOTO: newsinenglish.no

Fireworks are banned within Oslo’s ‘Ring 2’ area, but are otherwise legal over New Year’s Eve.  However, Oslo’s fire and rescue service website says sky lanterns, also known as flying lanterns, Chinese lights, Thai lights and peace lights, are prohibited. While their sale is not actually banned, it’s illegal to light a fire outdoors that creates a fire hazard.

“It also stands that a fire must not be left until it’s completely extinguished,” fire inspector Solveig Øverli told newspaper Aftenposten. “When you release such a lamp in urban areas, in effect you’re sending up into the air a fire which burns for several minutes. Now when there’s little snow, it can land in the eaves of neighboring houses and lie there smouldering until it finally catches fire.”

The Norwegian Directorate for Civil Protection (Direktoratet for samfunnssikkerhet og beredskap, DSB) have considered banning the sale of the lanterns in the past, and will propose new regulations and zoning rules to the Ministry of Justice and Public Security next year.

Sellers disagree the lanterns are dangerous. “The lights are self-extinguishing, and fall down when the air in them isn’t warm any more,” Jan Kingell from Oslo party shop, Standard, told Aftenposten. “They’re like fireworks – they are dangerous if they’re not used correctly. These lights have existed for many years and are much used in lands with climates far dryer than ours.”

newsinenglish.no/Emily Woodgate