Worcestershire fire chief calls for review of sky lanterns

By Gary Smee Thursday 12 December 2013 Updated: 12/12 14:50

THE COUNTY'S Chief Fire Officer has called for an urgent review of sky lanterns following a devastating blaze at a caravan park.

The fire at Croft Farm Leisure Park in Bredons Hardwick last month destroyed more than 80 towing caravans and mobile homes in storage, but firefighters managed to stop the flames spreading to a 2,000-litre fuel storage tank.

Following a thorough investigation, using eyewitnesses and viewing CCTV footage, it is believed a sky lantern caused the fire.

Chief fire officer, Mark Yates, said both Hereford and Worcester Fire and Rescue Service and Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service had deployed a significant number of fire engines to bring the blaze under control.

"Whilst there is no doubt the lanterns are popular and are often used at events, the potential damage they can cause is significant," he said.

"Not only do they pose a risk to livestock and agriculture but also to property, as was the case in this incident.

"It is quite bizarre that it can be considered acceptable to allow a lit object to float across towns and countryside without any knowledge of if or where it may land and subsequently cause a fire.

"As a Chief Fire Officer I do not consider it is acceptable to allow burning objects to be set free across our counties without any consideration of the damage they may do to property or livestock and I would ask event organisers not to use sky lanterns for any purpose."

Mr Yates said he now wanted a review into their use.

"I believe now is the time to review the use of Sky Lanterns and recognise that they can pose a significant risk to property as this fire in Worcestershire demonstrates," he added.

"Only a few months ago fire engines from Hereford and Worcester FRS assisted at large fire in a plastic recycling site in Smethwick which was also caused by a sky lantern."

And in July, we reported how Bromsgrove councillors had voted to ban the use of them on district council-owned land.

A letter signed by the leaders was also sent to the Government, calling for the sale of sky lanterns to be banned throughout the UK.

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