MANILA, Philippines — Fire authorities are discouraging the use of sky lanterns while the Department of Public Works and Highways (DPWH) is prohibiting the burning of tires during the New Year’s Eve revelry.
Sky lanterns are small hot-air balloons that carry lights and operated in the same manner as their sporting counterparts.
But the Bureau of Fire Protection (BFP) said on Friday that sky lanterns could start fires if they landed on rooftops or got snagged on power lines.
Public Works Secretary Rogelio Singson ordered a total ban on using tires for bonfires on New Year’s Eve.
Singson said that burning tires could be dangerous to public health and would pollute the environment.
Fumes from burning tires are poisonous and harmful to humans, especially children, according to Singson.
Singson called on the Philippine National Police to strictly enforce the ban.
Chief Superintendent Santiago Laguna, Metro Manila fire director, said in a statement that a sky lantern might have caused the fire that destroyed an apartment complex in Quezon City early on Christmas Day, killing a family of seven.
But Laguna said investigators were also looking into the possibility that an electrical short caused the fire.
While there is no law prohibiting sky lanterns, fire authorities would accost people launching sky lanterns and hold them criminally liable if the lanterns caused fires, according to Laguna.
The warning on sky lanterns comes with the BFP’s annual fire prevention campaign mounted right after Christmas, when Filipinos begin playing with firecrackers in expectation of a bigger celebration on New Year’s Eve.
Laguna said the fire protection bureau has also been discouraging the use of firecrackers and other fireworks, as it could lead to fires.
All fire fighting units will be on extra alert on New Year’s Eve for fires that may break out as a result of widespread use of fireworks, according to Laguna.
The BFP also issued reminders for safety during the New Year celebration.
* Properly store or dispose of candles, matches, flammable liquids, lighters and other combustibles.
* Avoid overloading electrical circuits and connections.
* Check appliances and unplug those not being used.
* Secure house against burglars before leaving for vacation.
In case of fire or emergency, call hotline 117 or the nearest fire station.