A WARNING of the fire danger of Chinese lanterns has been issued in the run up to the royal wedding.
The Country Land and Business Association in the south east voiced its fears that some celebrations could actually cause damage and potentially put lives at risk due to the lanterns, often thought to be UFOs.
Rupert Ashby, south east regional director, said: “We are enjoying fine dry weather at the moment that looks like staying with us.
“Across the countryside we still have a great deal of last year’s vegetation, now dead and dry.
“I worry that if some revellers choose to celebrate the Royal Wedding by releasing Chinese Lanterns, this vegetation is at great risk of fire.
“This debate appears to have been running for more than a year now.
“Examples of livestock dying after consuming the remains of fallen lanterns were dismissed by some as not possible if biodegradable lanterns were used, but biodegradability doesn’t help if they’re eaten too soon, and it doesn’t prevent fires. “This is the reason they are banned in other countries – some in Europe and even in parts of China. Lives have been lost in fires started by Chinese lanterns.
“Some people say that it couldn’t happen here, yet just this month 20 firefighters spent four hours tackling fires in the north east caused by lanterns.
“Other examples include a cow which died last year after swallowing the remains of a lantern in Cheshire, which ruptured its stomach, and a foal in Shropshire had to be put down after it injured itself on a fence because it had been scared by one of the decorations.
“It can only be a matter of time before similar incidents are reported closer to home. “Easter and the royal wedding will start the season of weddings, outdoor celebrations and barbeques.
“However tempting, please do not release Chinese lanterns. They can harm livestock, in coastal areas they can be confused for distress flares, sparking false alarms that put at risk lives at sea, and they can cause fires threatening life and property.
“If I described anything else in this way, there would be a universal clamour for it to be banned.”