Burning 'sky lanterns' worry Cobleskill man


By Patsy Nicosia

Cobleskill man is worried that the sky lanterns, also known as Chinese wish lanterns, that have been descending, lit, on his Hillside Avenue home since mid-July are a disaster waiting to happen.
Fred Dudash asked the Town of Cobleskill Monday to make possession of the lanterns illegal.
The three-foot-by-three-foot lanterns are made of tissue paper, Mr. Dudash said.
When wax fuel inside the lanterns is lit, Mr. Dudash said, they fill with hot air and take flight.
Someone northwest of his house has been lighting the brightly-colored lanterns and sending them on their way, he said; both he and neighbors have found them hanging in trees and in their yards and Monday he displayed a trash bag of deflated purple, orange, green and red lanterns.
"It's a potential disaster with a definite loss of life," he warned, should the lanterns light a home, the school, or nearby woods and fields on fire.
Calling the lanterns, which are typically lit at celebrations like weddings, "eye-candy without the responsibility," Mr. Dudash added, "Unless you're God, you can't control where the wind takes them."
Cobleskill Mayor Linda Holmes said she's already asked Chief Rich Bialkowski to look into the lanterns and after talking with Schoharie County Fire Coordinator Mike Brisley, it seems to be a local code enforcement issue.
Mayor Holmes said at least some of the lanterns apparently came from a wedding at the Best Western and they've since been asked to not allow them because of the public safety danger.
Town Councilman Alan Rubin said he took complaints he received to Code Enforcement Officer Mike Piccolo and Mr. Piccolo promised to immediately investigate any sightings.
Supervisor Leo McAllister said the town may have to take some action against them and asked Counilmen Liz Montario and Scott Kelley to work with the village on some way to resolve concerns like Mr. Dudash's.
"If it's an issue, we may have to deal with it," Mr. McAllister said.
"I'm begging you," Mr. Dudash said. "Before they burn down half the state."