WESTMORLAND and Lonsdale MP Tim Farron has renewed his call for strict controls on the use of Chinese lanterns following the devastating plastics fire in the West Midlands.
Last year, Mr Farron demanded a ban or regulation of the lanterns after farmers in South Lakeland raised concerns about the potential impact on crops and livestock.
They feared barns could catch fire or that cows and sheep could ingest metal parts of the burnt-out lanterns that land in fields.
Following latest incident, Mr Farron described the lanterns as ‘immensely dangerous’.
Investigators have established that a lantern - captured on CCTV falling on to the site - was to blame for the blaze in Smethwick, near Birmingham, which was tackled by 200 firefighters and caused £6m worth of damage.
Speaking on Radio 4’s Today programme on Tuesday, Mr Farron said: "There's been a lot of concern in rural areas and the farming community about the impact on livestock, on crops for many years and now we have an incident like this in an urban area. I think the evidence does point to a ban.”
Cumbria’s Chief Fire Officer, Dominic Harrison, said: “We support West Midlands Fire Service’s call for a review of legislation regarding the use of fire lanterns.
“As we’ve seen this week, these lanterns can pose a real hazard as once they’re launched there’s no way of controlling the direction they take and there’s no guarantee the fuel will be fully extinguished and cooled when the lantern finally lands.
“I’d also encourage community leaders and members of the public to discourage the use of the lanterns on the basis that they present a fire danger.
“As well as being a fire hazard, they can pose a risk to livestock and even be mistaken for distress flares.
“In Cumbria we have had incidents in the past where fires have been started by lanterns, so I welcome West Midlands Fire Service’s stance and echo their concerns.”