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Downing Street plays down Chinese lantern 'ban'

Calls by the Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron for a ban on Chinese lanterns have been played down by Downing Street, in the wake of the Smethwick fire.

"The actual number of fires caused by Chinese lanterns is very small," a No 10 spokesman said.

"It is important that we always ensure that there is a proportionate response to any event and we always look at safety matters and make sure they are kept at the top of our concerns."

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Ambulance teams treated 13 people at Smethwick fire

The West Midlands Ambulance team has treated a total of 13 people, including 12 firefighters, at the scene of the recycling plant fire in Smethwick.

Photos of the blaze yesterday taken by viewer Jordan Higgins Credit: Jordan Higgins

In total three people were taken to hospital after more than 50,000 tonnes of recycling material was set alight.

The smoke above the factory blaze yesterday Credit: Jordan Higgins

Briefings are expected to take place today on road closures surrounding the factory.

The wind carries the smoke after Smethwick fire yesterday Credit: Jordan Higgins

Lib Dem president: 'Ban Chinese lanterns'

Liberal Democrat president Tim Farron has repeated calls for a ban on Chinese lanterns following the Smethwick fire.

The Cumbrian MP made calls for the lanterns to be banned in 2012, saying "these lanterns are a spectacular sight to enjoy but many don't realise the harm they can do".

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Smethwick fire: Firefighters making progress

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Chinese lantern caused '£6m' worth of damage in blaze

Vijith Randeniya, chief fire officer of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service said a Chinese fire lantern which sparked the fire in Smethwick has caused £6 million worth of damage.

We have a situation where a fire has started here, £6 million-worth of loss, started by one of these lanterns and that was eminently preventable.

We don't want to be party poopers and we know they are used in a lot of celebrations.

– Vijith Randeniya, chief fire officer of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service

Chinese lantern captured on CCTV before massive blaze

Fire investigators have established a Chinese lantern - captured on CCTV falling on to the site - was to blame for the fire, which at its height was being tackled by more than 200 firefighters.

Vijith Randeniya, chief fire officer of West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service, said the brigade did not want to be "party poopers" but called for a debate on the use of lanterns for celebrations.

Firefighters during a fire at J&A Young in Smethwick, Birmingham. Credit: PA Wire

He said: "My forensics people have been here from the start and have reviewed CCTV and spoken to people and looked at the way the fire started and looking at the CCTV evidence, you can see a Chinese lantern floating gently, and then land and then eight minutes later you see the fire start."

Firefighters battle Smethwick blaze amid devastation

Firefighters are still battling to bring the Smethwick blaze under control amid the devastation, with some standing on the remains of burnt recycled material to hose down the fire.

A firefighter can be seen battling the Smethwick blaze amid the devastation of burnt recycled materials. Credit: Rupert Evelyn/ITV News
The site is in ruins following the blaze. Credit: Rupert Evelyn/ITV News
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