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Japanese paper lanterns face state bans at hands of firefighters

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One of the Japanese community's most revered celebratory traditions, the lighting and floating of paper sky lanterns, faces a doomed fate as a national organization of firefighters says they're too dangerous and should be banned.

The National Association of State Fire Marshals says the lanterns are fire hazards that can't be controlled, The Associated Press reported. They're at the fate of the winds to decide where they land, New Hampshire Fire Marshal Bill Degnan said in the report.

"You have no control over where it lands," he said, recalling how some have landed in trees and on tents at the New Hampshire Motor Speedway, AP reported.

The paper lanterns have been part of Japanese culture for centuries. It's akin to a small hot-air balloon of paper, with an opening at the bottom where the heat from the fire floats it into the sky. The lanterns originally were used by Japanese fighters as signals during war.

Nowadays, they're primarily used to signal good luck and to send messages of joy and blessing, as well as at weddings.

The fire marshals group has been campaigning for months for states to ban sky lanterns. Lawmakers in several states, including New Hampshire, have filed bills to ban their sales.

 

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