The El Dorado City Commission wanted to see what the state of Kansas was going to do before making a decision on if to ban aerial luminaries.
The request to ban the sky lanterns or a floating lantern was brought before the commission Monday evening by El Dorado Fire Chief Steve Moody.
“Recently Sedgwick County banned them and other cities and counties have as well,” Moody said.
He said there also is a bill proposed before the Kansas legislature, and 11 other states have already issued bans.
The lantern is an airborne paper object containing a device for fuel that heats air from the inside causing it to rise into the air and remain airborne until it is extinguished.
“The problem with them is they don’t always go out before they reach the ground,” Moody said. “They can get hung up in a tree and cause a fire there.”
They also could land in a dry field out in the county and start a fire.
Recently, Great Britain had a $9 million loss to a plastic recycling plant from a fire caused by one of the floating lanterns.
“With Kansas winds and our dry grasslands, it just concerns me that we follow suit instead of waiting for the state to do it for us,” Moody said.
Some of these items were sold last year at the fireworks stands in El Dorado. The issue came before the commission last year but it was too late in the fire works season to make any change, so it was being brought back earlier this year.
Commissioner Bill Young said he is indifferent.
“We haven’t had any problems with them,” he said. “I don’t want just to legislate to legislate. Because other towns are doing it we might as well too – I don’t think that is the right direction to go.”
He pointed out during droughts there are bans on fireworks anyway.
Commissioner David Chapin pointed out the difference with this is it leaves the sight of the person who lit it.
“I don’t disagree with the concerns and I am not opposed to passing this ordinance,” Young said. “I would just encourage us to approach this carefully not to just pass these to pass ordinances.”
Mayor Mike Fagg suggested they wait to see what the state does and if the state does not do anything, the city can take action in May.
Young said those who run fireworks stands usually put in their order in the April-May time frame.
Page 2 of 2 - “I think it’s fair to those who have fireworks stands to give them plenty of heads-up we’re going to ban them if we do,” he said. “Maybe look at it again in late March or April.”
City Manager Herb Llewellyn said they could tell those who run the fireworks stands it is now under consideration with the commission just so they would know.
The commission directed staff to follow the state bill and bring back information on that to them.
Julie Clements can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.