Chinese lantern may have sparked business fire

Posted at 5:52 PM, Sep 10, 2014
and last updated 2014-09-10 17:52:46-04

KENTWOOD, Mich. - You`ve probably seen them, the lights of Chinese lanterns lingering in the skies over West Michigan.

An investigation is underway after a Kentwood business went up in flames Tuesday after witnesses saw a Chinese lantern drop fire onto the roof.

It happened in the 200 block of Breton Industrial Avenue in Kentwood.

A charred Chinese lantern found on scene seems to tell the tale.

“Where they come down there’s no control, it’s flammable and could start fires anywhere,” Kentwood Deputy Fire Chief Gregory Ginebaugh said.

The lanterns can travel for miles and Kentwood isn`t the only city seeing these lanterns as a hazard.

Ginebaugh says Grand Rapids has had their problems with ArtPrize a few years ago with 15,000 of the lanterns going up.

The National Association of State Fire Marshalls has called for a ban on these types of lanterns because of the fire hazard they pose.

“We don`t have an ordinance or anything like that that covers this, it’s kind of associated with the new fireworks law,” Ginebaugh said.

The initial damage estimate is $10,000 as others wonder how many more times this will happen before new policies are set in place.

That fire is still under investigation, and the Kentwood Fire Department is asking for any other witnesses to come forward who may have seen that fire spark Tuesday night.