Decorative sky lanterns illegal in Minnesota - KTTC Rochester, Austin, Mason City News, Weather and Sports

Decorative sky lanterns illegal in Minnesota

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ROCHESTER, Minn. (KTTC) -- They are used for special occasions, however, they could pose a major hazard.

Chinese lanterns, or sky lanterns, have been becoming more and more popular for celebrations but one Rochester hotel had a close call with a major disaster Monday.

And if you live in Minnesota, you might want to know that these decorative lanterns are actually illegal.

Sunday night at about 9:30 p.m., authorities say a sky lantern had been launched in the vicinity of America's Best Value Inn. It went unnoticed until employees of the hotel began to smell smoke.

Rochester fire crews arrived on scene to find two lanterns on the rooftop The lanterns had caused a small fire and destroyed some rubber membranes along the roof of the hotel.

They may look pretty, but officials say they technically follow the same guidelines as a self-propelled firework-- and that's exactly why it's an issue.

"One they get airborne they are completely out of your control. The State Fire Marshal Office decided they pose such a life and safety hazard that they decided to make them illegal," Capt. Jason Theusch of the Winona Fire Department said Monday.

Even though these lanterns are still being sold in some Minnesota retail stores, they are, in fact, illegal in Minnesota.

Instead of confiscating them, the State Fire Marshal's office is recommending that retailers pull them off the shelf.

There is a chance if you already have these lanterns in your possession you may be able to return them, but officials say that is a case-by-case matter.

Otherwise, officials say, you'll have to find a different state in which to launch them.

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