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Fire service warns of flying lantern dangers this New Year's Eve
FIREFIGHTERS are urging people to take extra care if they are planning to use flying lanterns or fireworks as part of their New Year celebrations.
Flying lanterns – also known as sky lanterns and Chinese lanterns – are usually made of paper, wire and bamboo and contain a lit candle. They can rise to more than 1,000 feet, fly for up to 20 minutes and float for miles before landing.
Neil Boustred, head of Buckinghamshire Fire & Rescue Service’s community safety team, said: “You can’t control the direction they take or where they will land.
“There is no guarantee that the fuel source will be fully extinguished and cooled when the lantern lands, and that’s a real fire hazard.”
He said unsuitable locations for flying lanterns included areas near telephone and power lines, areas near standing crops, anywhere near buildings with thatched roofs, areas of dense woodland and areas of heath or bracken.
On New Year’s Eve two years ago, a stray flying lantern set fire to a car in Chalfont St Giles shortly before midnight after landing next to it and then being blown underneath it.
Then, around forty minutes later, the same fire crew was dispatched to tackle a fire in Gerrards Cross after a lantern had become caught up in a tree.
As well as being a potential fire hazard, the lanterns often contain wire which can kill or injure animals, damage farm machinery or end up in animal feed.
In 2011 the BFP reported on Lane End farmer Will Lacey’s call to ban the lanterns after three of his cows suffered agonising deaths when they digested metal wire from lanterns which landed on the farm.
The lanterns have also tied up a great deal of emergency service time over the years because they are sometimes mistaken for UFOs or distress flares.
Please also take care if you are using fireworks tonight. Always follow the Buckinghamshire Fire and Rescue Firework Code – click here to read it.
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