Warning after lanterns cause island blazes

FIREFIGHTERS in Northumberland are warning people about the dangers of Chinese lanterns after three fires broke out on one night.

The call comes after 20 firefighters spent more than four hours tackling three separate blazes on Holy Island last week.

Northumberland Fire and Rescue Service attended fires caused by Chinese lanterns falling on the dunes after being blown back to land by the strong winds, just after 9pm last Wednesday.

Acting chief fire officer Alex Bennett said: “We would like to warn the public of the potential dangers of using Chinese lanterns. When these fall back to land, the candles can very easily ignite dry grass or undergrowth.

“The subsequent fires can spread very quickly to destroy very large areas of natural undergrowth or crop land.

“As Northumberland is a large rural county, we are particularly at risk of fires resulting from the use of Chinese lanterns and we would urge the public not to use these.”

The National Farmers Union has also warned about the danger that the wire used in lanterns poses to animals.

Concerns have also been raised by the RNLI after the lights from lanterns were mistaken for distress flares.