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As Chinese New Year approaches on Thursday 19 February, Humberside Fire and Rescue Service is taking the opportunity to ask people to think twice before using Chinese lanterns. This plea is supported by the National Fire Chiefs Council (NFCC) and fire and rescue services across the country who want to raise awareness of the dangers sky lanterns can pose.

Allen Cunningham, head of Community Safety at Humberside Fire and Rescue said:

“Chinese lanterns do look pretty, but the damage they can cause can have devastating effects. They pose a real fire risk because there is no way of knowing where they will land. They can start fires which go undetected until serious damage has been caused, particularly in rural areas. They can seriously damage property and cause environmental damage, destroying animal habitats and, in some cases, kill or seriously injure livestock.”

The paper lanterns consist of a candle or a fuel cell filled with paraffin wax suspended inside a frame of wire or bamboo. When lit, they float upwards and drift away, landing when the fuel has run out. They can reach up to 1,000m in height and drift for several miles in the breeze and there is no control over where they land.

Humberside Fire and Rescue Service attended six fires last year that had been caused by sky lanterns.

“This is not a particularly high number, but we have a responsibility to inform people of the dangers these lanterns pose and I urge people to consider the risks before taking the decision to use them,” Allen advised.