Chinese lantern warning from Fire Service

EAST Sussex Fire and Rescue Service is warning local residents and event organisers of the potential dangers posed by Chinese Lanterns.

It comes as investigators say the massive fire in the West Midlands this week, in which ten firefighters were injured, was probably started by one of the aerial lanterns.

Locally, farmers at Guestling and Pett have raised the issue in the past claiming the lanterns could set alight farm buildings and hay bales when they descend.

There have also been instances of livestock being injured after getting their feet tangled in the sharp wire frames of the lanterns.

Chinese lanterns, also known as ‘sky lanterns’ are airborne paper lanterns, constructed from rice paper on a bamboo frame.

They contain a small candle or fuel cell and when lit, the flame heats the air inside the lantern, thus lowering its density causing the lantern to rise into the air. The lantern is only airborne for as long as the flame stays alight, after which the lantern floats back to the ground.

A Fire Service spokesman said: “There is evidence of them causing fires, wasting police time, being mistaken for distress flares, misleading aircraft and killing livestock. The risk of these occurrences will only increase as the use of Chinese lanterns increases.

“Whilst these lanterns are undoubtedly a popular and beautiful sight, the potential damage they can cause is significant.

Last year, Hastings firefighters released a warning of the dangers of celebrating with Chinese lanterns, following a fire at Marine Court.

A fire started after one drifted across from wedding celebrations on Hastings beach and became tangled in the security netting on scaffolding.

Earlier this year a quick-thinking boat owner averted a major fire after a Chinese lantern landed on a yacht at Eastbourne’s Sovereign Harbour.

The crew on a nearby yacht spotted the blazing lantern after it landed on the sprayhood of a yacht in the marina.

Steve Wright, Community Safety Team Manager, said: “During the summer period, these lanterns pose an even greater threat. There has been concerns about these lanterns landing in fields of dry crops. They have the potential to cause crop fires.”