|Illegal aerial luminaries - sky lanterns - landed on a roof, a utility line, and in a yard in Pāhala. Officer Pernell Hanoa urges citizens to understand the fire danger. Photo from Hawai‘i Police Department|
In a statement from Hawai‘i Police Department on Monday, Hanoa said, “Given Ka‘ū’s history of wildfires and the current drought conditions currently affecting Ka‘ū, and other parts of Hawai‘i island, the use of aerial luminaries poses a significant fire risk to communities. It’s frustrating that with so many of our friends and family on Maui still recovering from devastating wildfires, that people would set off
|Remains of illegal sky lanterns found in Pāhala.|
Photo from Hawai'i Police Department
At 8:30 a.m. on Monday, Ka‘ū patrol officers responded to the 96-1000 block of Iliau Street in Pāhala after a resident reported finding three burned-out sky lanterns near his property. One lantern reportedly landed on the roof of a nearby house, another landed on a utility line, and a third landed in the yard of a neighboring property. Officers recovered two of the three lanterns but were unable to access the lantern on the roof of a nearby residence.
It appears that the lanterns were ignited and set afloat sometime over the weekend, reported the HPD statement, which also said, "The Hawai‘i Police Department would like to remind everyone that possessing and igniting aerial luminaries in the state of Hawai‘i is prohibited by law, HRS [§132-19], and those found guilty of violating this law shall be imprisoned for not more than one year or fined not more than $1,000, or both, for each violation."
So far in 2023, Ka‘ū patrol officers have responded to more than 10 incidents in which houses, other property, and agricultural land have been impacted by wildfires. The HPD statement said, "Hawai‘i Island police are reminding the public that aerial luminaries are incredibly dangerous, as well as illegal."
HPD is asking that anyone who witnesses any type of aerial luminary being used to call the police non-emergency number at (808) 935-3311.
See www.hawaiiwildfire.org/cwpp-resources and state Department of Land & Natural Resources website: dlnr.hawaii.gov/forestry/fire/community-risk-reduction/community-wildfire-protection-plans/.