During various festivals in countries like China, Brazil and India, it is common to look up and see hundreds of glowing paper lanterns floating up into the night sky. These lanterns are like tiny hot air balloons that use a candle or fuel cell to heat the air inside the lantern, causing it to rise and float away.
However, you need to do know that attempting to recreate these light festivals in California is illegal. If you wish to participate in a light festival involving sky lanterns in California, you should first attempt to verify that the company putting on the event has the permits necessary to legally conduct it.
Why Sky Lanterns are Illegal in California
Perhaps more than any other state in the country, California is susceptible to wildfires. In 2017, a massive fire swept through Santa Rosa, causing the deaths of 40 people and destroying more than 6,000 homes. A year earlier, two homes in that city were set ablaze when paper lanterns from a nearby party landed on the roofs.
There are a couple of problems with using these lanterns. First, while they can stay airborne for a long time, the lanterns will eventually come back down to earth. When they land, the candle inside may still be lit or hot enough to cause a fire.
The second problem is that the lanterns can actually fly quite high. While this was not a problem back in the third century BC, when the lanterns were invented as a signaling device for militaries, it is a problem in an age where air transportation is common. It is possible that a sky lantern could fly into the path of air traffic, causing problems for aircraft.
All of these reasons are why California has made sky lanterns illegal.
What Happens if You Use a Sky Lantern?
Although you are unlikely to face criminal consequences if you use a paper lantern, you could be in serious legal trouble if your sky lantern starts a fire. You could face misdemeanor charges of negligently causing a fire under Health and Safety Code Section 13001.
Additionally, you could be found liable for damages resulting from the fire as well as public costs associated with fighting the fire, including rescue and medical services. These costs could be extremely high.
Contact the Criminal Defense Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich for Help
If you are facing charges related to causing a fire, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled criminal defense lawyers have more than 35 years of experience successfully defending clients charged with crimes related to causing fires. We will work tirelessly and use all of our legal knowledge and skill to help you achieve the best possible outcome in your case.
With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, West Covina, Torrance, Los Angeles and San Diego, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich criminal defense attorney available to help you no matter where you are located.
Call us today at (888) 280-6839 for a free phone consultation. We will be there when you call.