Police remind public that aerial luminaries are illegal after three reported in Ka‘ū

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Hawai‘i Island police are reminding the public that aerial luminaries are incredibly dangerous, as well as illegal, after three sky lanterns—small hot air balloons made of paper with an open flame at the base—were discovered in Pāhala on Oct. 23.

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 a nearby residence.


It appears that the lanterns were ignited and set afloat sometime over the weekend.

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.

“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 luminaires poses a significant fire risk to communities,” said Ka‘ū Patrol Acting Captain Pernell Hanoa.


“It’s frustrating that with so many of our friends and family on Maui still recovering from devastating wildfires, that people would set off these incendiary devices, and allow them to become airborne. These balls of fire have to land somewhere and we are fortunate that no fires were reported as a result of this incident.”

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 Hawai‘i Police Department is asking that anyone who witnesses any type of aerial luminary being used to call the police non-emergency number at 808-935-3311.

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