Firefighters are often heading toward the danger, but sometimes it comes to them. For York Beach Fire Chief David Bridges, danger landed right on his roof.
"I pulled up and saw something hanging off the corner of my roof," he said, remembering his drive home Sunday. "I knew instantly what it was."
It was a sky lantern, also known as a Chinese lantern — floating paper globes with burning candles inside that are often released at weddings, holiday parties, vigils and memorials. They may be beautiful, but they are illegal in Maine.
"These things have a mind of their own and they go where the winds take them to go," Chief Bridges said.
For years, he has been trying to educate the public about the lantern law and the fire dangers they pose. Bridges believes it is a common misconception that Maine legalized the lanterns after legalizing fireworks in 2012.
But according to state statutes mentioned by the York Beach Fire Department on its Facebook page, there are many restrictions that ban the possession, use, sale and purchase of the sky lanterns.
Bridges said they have been known to land on roofs and in trees, causing fires.
"It's just ironic that one landed on my roof," he said. "Of all places for it to land."