Firefighters warn of dangers of Chinese lanterns

With the festive season now in full swing, firefighters are reminding people of the dangers of using Chinese lanterns as part of their Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Since August fire crews have been called to at least four fires believed to have been caused by Chinese lanterns, three of which involved damage to houses. In the latest incident earlier this month, firefighters from Central Fire Station rushed to a house in Cranmer Walk, St Ann’s, after a blazing lantern landed on the roof. Fortunately the fire was already out when they arrived, and checks to the roof and surrounding area confirmed that there was no further risk of fire.

Station Manager Craig Dooley, of Nottinghamshire Fire and Rescue Service’s Arson Task Force, says this latest incident is yet another reminder of how dangerous Chinese lanterns, and any naked flame, can be.

“Fortunately, in this instance, the lantern burnt itself out and no real harm was done. But the fire could easily have spread to the roof, causing untold damage to the property and putting lives at risk,” he said.

“We know that at least four fires we have attended since the summer have been as a result of Chinese lanterns but there may have been more, particularly in the countryside where the damage to crops or vegetation covers a large area.”

Farmers are particularly concerned that burning lanterns falling from the sky could set fire to crops or hay bales, or that the wires inside the lanterns could injure cattle if they get wrapped around an animal’s foot or get into their food. There are also concerns about lanterns landing on thatched roofs in rural areas, where the consequences could be devastating.

Craig adds: “Chinese lanterns look pretty but I would urge people not to include them as part of their Christmas and New Year celebrations. Anything that has a naked flame should be used with extreme care, but these lanterns are made from paper which burns rapidly. Some will disintegrate in the sky and fall as debris, however it is those that might be falling still lit, or even completely on fire, that causes us concern.”

Partygoers should also take care if using fireworks this festive season and always follow the Firework Code.