FIREFIGHTERS are warning of the problems caused by paper lanterns in the countdown to Chinese New Year, which starts on Friday, January 31.

Cumbria Fire and Rescue Service says lighting the lanterns forms part of the festivities, but they can pose a fire risk.

The lanterns can often rise to a height of more 1,200ft, fly for up to 20 minutes, and once the fuel cell has expired the lanterns float back to earth, said the fire service.

They also warn that as well as being a potential fire risk, they can cause harm to cattle, and be confused with distress flares.