Austrian town claims tallest bonfire after three months' work

In this image made from video on Saturday, March 16, 2019, a bonfire burns in Lustenau, Austria.


By ASSOCIATED PRESS Published: March 17, 2019

BERLIN — An Austrian town has burned what organizers says is the world's tallest bonfire, clocking in at 198.97 feet.

The local bonfire group in Lustenau, near the Swiss border, took three months to build the structure. It burned down in less than half an hour Saturday evening. The previous record structure was a 154.2-foot bonfire in Alesund, Norway in 2016.

Western Austria has a tradition of bonfires called "Funken," or sparks. It's believed to go back to pagan times when people lit fires to banish winter and welcome the arrival of spring.

The big bonfire drew criticism from members of the Green party and the Austrian Association for the Protection of the Alps, which said it was "the wrong signal" at a time of concern about climate change.

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