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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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'Ash cloud' fills the sky after recycling plant blaze

Twitter users have taken to the social networking site, reflecting the size and extent of the fire in Smethwick:

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Magnitude of 100,000 tonnes of recycling material ablaze

The West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service has confirmed that 100,000 tonnes of recycling material is ablaze in Smethwick.

That equates to:

  • Four HMS Ark Royals at 22,000 tonnes each
  • 769 Boeing 747s
  • More than 13 Eiffel Towers

Chief Fire Officer Vij Randeniya, says CCTV cameras nearby have picked up a Chinese lantern landing on the recycling plant on Dartmouth Road.

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Eleven firefighters injured at Smethwick blaze

A total of 11 firefighters have been treated by ambulance crews for a variety of minor injuries, include heat exhaustion and minor burns.

Local residents continue to be asked to keep doors and windows shut as a precaution, but there is not thought to be any risk to health from the fire.

– West Midlands Ambulance Service spokesperson

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CCTV indicates Smethwick blaze was caused by Chinese lantern

The Chief Fire Officer for the West Midlands Fire Service, Vij Randeniya, has announced that the Smethwick blaze was caused by a Chinese lantern landing on recycling material.

The lantern, which is yet to be investigated by West Midlands Fire Service, was caught on CCTV hovering over the plant on Dartmouth Road.

Smethwick blaze: Ten firefighters injured

The fire is being tackled by 200 firefighters Credit: Martin Potter

West Midlands Fire Service has confirmed 10 firefighters received treatment at the scene.A spokesman said two were taken to hospital - one with an eye injury and another with an ankle injury.Eight more were treated at the scene for minor heat-related injuries, he added.

A spokeswoman for Birmingham Airport confirmed the Smethwick blaze was not affecting flights.

She said: "Operations are continuing as normal and the fire has had no impact on any of our services."

Firefighters tackling West Midlands 'biggest ever blaze'

Smethwick borders the edge of Birmingham Credit: Google Maps

West Midlands area fire commander Steve Vincent said: "This is the largest fire that we've had in the West Midlands. It is a major fire and we've got support from surrounding fire brigades to help us deal with this."

More than 200 firefighters are tackling the blaze.

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