CELEBRATORY Chinese lanterns can be desastating for the countryside and as temperatures soared this week Suffolk Fire Service issued a warning about the risks they pose.
Since last summer, there have been 10 fires in Suffolk caused by Chinese lanterns which are often lit and sent up into the air at birthdays, weddings and other celebrations.
Last weekend, a farmer spotted a lantern smouldering on his land and was able to avert a major blaze which could have destroyed crops and machinery.
Cllr Colin Spence, portfolio holder for public protection, said: “Once these lanterns have been set off they are unpredictable and cannot be controlled. When the lantern eventually descends it could present a real hazard if the fire has not been properly extinguished.
“This is particularly worrying during the dry summer months when grass, shrubs and trees can easily ignite and burn out of control very quickly.”
Suffolk Fire Service said it would advise people not to use the lanterns but if they did so, to follow safety guidelines.
These include: Do not use near dry crops, thatched roofs or other material; if the lantern paper ignites put it out and discard it; use only in calm conditions; do not use within five miles of airports; keep a fire extinguisher ready and it is safer and easier if two people launch one lantern at a time.
The National Farmers’ Union has also launched a poster campaign urging people not to use Chinese lanterns and pointing out dangers to animals and risk of fire.