Sky lantern warning after Smethwick blaze

Farm unions have repeated a warning to the public to stop using sky lanterns which have been blamed for starting a huge fire in the west Midlands.


The fire has destroyed 100,000 tonnes of plastic worth £6m at a recycling centre in Smethwick and local fire chiefs were quick to blame sky lanterns as the cause.


The NFU and the Women’s Food and Farming Union (WFU) which have both campaigned to have the miniature paper hot air balloons banned, used the fire to highlight the risks posed to property and cattle.


“Our members know how dangerous these lanterns can be. They can harm or kill farm animals by ingesting a wire frame in chopped grass and there is the fire risk to crops, buildings and moorland.”
NFU rural surveyor Louise Staples

NFU rural surveyor Louise Staples said: “As we have seen, sky lanterns can cause severe fires on an industrial scale.


“Our members know how dangerous these lanterns can be. They can harm or kill farm animals by ingesting a wire frame in chopped grass and there is the fire risk to crops, buildings and moorland.”


Ms Staples added: “We really would hope people would think twice about releasing them into the air because of the very real dangers they pose.”


The WFU said that the lanterns were more dangerous than fireworks.


WFU vice-president Eunice Finney said: “We have warned DEFRA that there could be a death next, while our politicians fail to act.”


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