MONTPELIER — Montpelier Fire Chief Dail Fritsch warned against the dangers of releasing Chinese lanterns in the village during the village council meeting Monday evening.
A Chinese lantern is made out of thin paper and functions much like a hot air balloon. A candle is placed inside the frame and the hot air lifts the lantern into the air and it floats away.
“Where it comes down, nobody knows,” Fritsch said. “They can come down anywhere.”
Fritsch said these lanterns are illegal in Ohio, but he found around eight of them last weekend, after a concerned citizen reported finding one in his backyard. That citizen brought him eight and Fritsch found another two within a three-block radius.
Fritsch brought several of them to the council meeting and handed them out to the council so they can see what they are like.
“The deal is, when these things land, they’re still lit,” he said. “He was concerned about yards being so dry. It could start the grass burning.”
The lanterns — which he said are often used for memorials — all had some scorch marks where the candle burnt them at some point in flight or after landing.
Fritsch said they could go for miles and expressed concern a couple weeks ago when a lot of hay was out in the fields.
“I had an incident where a guy was selling them at the fair a couple years ago, and I saw them floating down Iuka (Drive),” he said.
Fritsch informed the vendors that they were illegal to light in the state, which he didn’t know.
Councilman Chris Kannel said the vast majority of people probably didn’t know they were illegal.
“I wasn’t there, but a friend told me about a friend of his who tried to light one and the first almost burned the neighbor’s house down and the second almost burned his wife,” he said. “So, they are dangerous for sure.”
In other business, council:
• Approved with a 4-0 vote to set trick or trick hours for Oct. 31 from 6-7 p.m. Council members Nate Thompson and Melissa Ewers were absent. The council also voted under recommendation from the economic development committee to prohibit typical public events at Storrer Park on the holiday as social distancing is difficult at those events. Councilman Dan Willis voted against it as he didn’t think it had to do with the committee.
• Approved creating a fund for money from the Coronavirus Aid, Relief and Economic Security Act.
• Received a final copy of the updated employee handbook and had a first reading on it.
• Approved long-term power agreements with Moore Industries and Winzeler Stamping.
• Had a second reading on use of solar and wind power.