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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


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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Labour: 'Ministers must look at fire risk of sky lanterns again'

The Government has spent £25 000 on a report into sky lanterns which found they are a significant fire risk, may hamper search and rescue services, and could pose a danger to aeroplanes.

They also pose a risk to cattle that could be injured by them – yet the government has decided to do nothing. After the Smethwick fire, Ministers must look at this issue again.

– Mary Creagh MP, Labour’s Shadow Environment Secretary

Firefighters limit Smethwick blaze by two thirds

West Midlands Fire Service said firefighters have reduced the blaze in Smethwick to a third its original size.

Fire service calls for review of laws over 'fire lanterns'

West Midlands Fire Service has called for an urgent review of the legislation regarding the use of "airborne fire lanterns".

There is evidence of them causing fires, wasting emergency services’ time, being mistaken for distress flares, misleading pilots and causing environmental damage.They also pose a risk to livestock, agriculture, camping activities, recycling sites and hazardous material sites.

The risk of further fires can only increase as the lanterns become more popular.

We do not support the use of these devices, and ask that members of the public and event organisers stop using them.

– West Midlands Fire Service statement

The brigade posted a statement on its website in response to what it described as "one of the biggest fires in its history in Smethwick, believed to have been started by a Chinese lantern at around 11pm last night.

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