FIREFIGHTERS are urging the public to be extremely cautious when using Chinese lanterns following a spate of fires across the country.
Chinese lanterns, also known as sky lanterns, are airborne paper lanterns, constructed from rice paper on a bamboo or wire frame.
They contain a small candle or fuel cell and when lit, the flame heats the air inside the lantern as it rises into the sky.
The lantern is only airborne for as long as the flame stays alight, after which the lantern floats back to the ground.
There is evidence of them causing fires, wasting police time, being mistaken for distress flares, misleading aircraft and killing livestock.
A spokesperson said, “East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service does not support the use of these devices and asks members of the public and event organisers to refrain from using them.
“Whilst these lanterns are undoubtedly a popular and beautiful sight, the potential damage they can cause is significant.”
The Chief Fire Officers’ Association is also discouraging the use of the floating paper lanterns on the basis that they constitute a fire risk when released.
Temporary head of community safety Steve Wright said, “During the summer period these lanterns pose an even greater threat.
“Locally there has been concern raised about these lanterns landing in fields of dry crops.
“Obviously they have the potential to cause crop fires but there is also the chance of causing harm to livestock on consuming the remains of these lanterns once they have landed.
“East Sussex Fire & Rescue Service also has an example of a house fire in Kent, caused by a sky lantern on our Black Museum website.
“This website highlights potential causes of fire and gives important safety messages. The website address is www.blackmuseum.info”