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Austrian town claims tallest bonfire after 3 months' work

Published
In this image made from video on Saturday, March 16, 2019, a bonfire burns in Lustenau, Austria. An Austrian town has burned what organizers says is the world’s tallest bonfire, clocking in at 60.646 meters (198.97 feet). The local bonfire group in Lustenau, near the Swiss border, took three months to build the structure. The previous record structure was a 47-meter (154.2-foot) bonfire in Alesund, Norway in 2016. (AP Photo)

BERLIN (AP) — An Austrian town has burned what organizers says is the world's tallest bonfire, clocking in at 60.646 meters (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 47-meter (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.

In this image made from video on Saturday, March 16, 2019, local people rest at concessions stands as a bonfire burns in the background, in Lustenau, Austria. An Austrian town has burned what organizers says is the world’s tallest bonfire, clocking in at 60.646 meters (198.97 feet). The local bonfire group in Lustenau, near the Swiss border, took three months to build the structure. The previous record structure was a 47-meter (154.2-foot) bonfire in Alesund, Norway in 2016. (AP Photo)
In this image made from video on Saturday, March 16, 2019, a bonfire burns in Lustenau, Austria. An Austrian town has burned what organizers says is the world’s tallest bonfire, clocking in at 60.646 meters (198.97 feet). The local bonfire group in Lustenau, near the Swiss border, took three months to build the structure. The previous record structure was a 47-meter (154.2-foot) bonfire in Alesund, Norway in 2016. (AP Photo)
In this image made from video on Saturday, March 16, 2019, a bonfire burns in Lustenau, Austria. An Austrian town has burned what organizers says is the world’s tallest bonfire, clocking in at 60.646 meters (198.97 feet). The local bonfire group in Lustenau, near the Swiss border, took three months to build the structure. The previous record structure was a 47-meter (154.2-foot) bonfire in Alesund, Norway in 2016. (AP Photo)
In this image made from video on Saturday, March 16, 2019, local people rest at concessions stands as a bonfire burns in the background, in Lustenau, Austria. An Austrian town has burned what organizers says is the world’s tallest bonfire, clocking in at 60.646 meters (198.97 feet). The local bonfire group in Lustenau, near the Swiss border, took three months to build the structure. The previous record structure was a 47-meter (154.2-foot) bonfire in Alesund, Norway in 2016. (AP Photo)
In this image made from video on Saturday, March 16, 2019, local people rest at concessions stands as a bonfire burns in the background, in Lustenau, Austria. An Austrian town has burned what organizers says is the world’s tallest bonfire, clocking in at 60.646 meters (198.97 feet). The local bonfire group in Lustenau, near the Swiss border, took three months to build the structure. The previous record structure was a 47-meter (154.2-foot) bonfire in Alesund, Norway in 2016. (AP Photo)