More than half of a state park in Brazil burned on Sunday afternoon after an illegal fire balloon fell, setting off a fire in the Juguery Park near Sao Paulo.

The fire also brought ash to the city, which is 39 kilometers or 24 miles away, Brazilian authorities said. The people of Brazil usually send off small balloons lit by candles up into the night sky to enjoy the show.

Despite being prohibited and punishable by fines or even prison, Brazilians still do the practice. State officials in Brazil's vibrant financial center, São Paulo, listed the balloons among the top three causes of forest fires each year.

According to ABC News, city officials in Franco da Rocha noted that a fire balloon came down in the Juguery Park and set ablaze the park. The fire spread due to strong winds and the intense summer heat over 50 percent of the park.

It was not immediately clear whether the current drought that Brazil is experiencing contributed to the extent of the devastation in the park. Due to the fire incident, the Brazilian government deployed 90 firefighters and more than 100 members of the country's Civil Defense Department to fight the fire and avoid further damages.

The state park was created in 1993. The Juguery Park is about 2,000 hectares or around 5,000 acres. The state park preserves one of the last remnants of the Cerrado biome in the Sao Paulo metropolitan region and areas of Atlantic Forest.

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Use of Fire Balloons Discouraged Not Only in Brazil

Aside from Brazil, countries such as Argentina, Australia, Austria, Chile, Costa Rica, New Zealand, Colombia, Germany, Spain, and several parts of Canada have also banned the use of sky lanterns. 

In the United States, a ban on sky lanterns was imposed in Alaska, California, Illinois, Maine, Maryland, Minnesota, Florida, Hawaii, New Hampshire, South Carolina, Tennessee, Utah, Virginia, New Jersey, Oregon, Rhode Island, and Washington.

Even the FAA raised concerns over the use of floating lanterns because of its threat of being sucked into the engines of aircraft.

Environmental Threat

While sky lanterns and balloons have become a familiar visual at memorials, festivals, and weddings, they pose a great threat to the environment. 

As these floating lanterns come up, they would also come down after a short while and litter the environment. It would also take months or even years for these lanterns and sky balloons to be cleaned from the area they landed.

Sky lanterns and balloons like plastic confetti are non-recyclable and will take years to decay. These materials turn into microplastics that are then ingested by many wildlife species, including fish, birds, and turtles.

At least 270 experts have named balloons as one of the biggest threats to marine mammals, turtles, and seabirds.

According to researchers at the University of Tasmania, they have discovered that at least one out of five dead seabirds out of 1700 have died after ingesting balloon pieces.

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This article is owned by Latin Post

Written by: Jess Smith

WATCH: Balloon Sets Blaze in Brazil Park, Raining Ash on Sao Paulo - From connerlayson2010