Chinese lantern sparks fire

2013-07-01 13:00

(Paul Ellis, AFP)

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Smethwick, United Kingdom – More than 200 firefighters were on Monday battling a major blaze at a recycling plant in Britain after a falling Chinese lantern set 100 000 tons of paper and plastic alight.

Ten firefighters suffered minor injuries as they fought to put out the flames at the plant in Smethwick, just outside Britain's second city Birmingham in central England, the local fire department said.

The fire sent a massive plume of smoke rising 1 800m into the sky which could be seen for kilometres around.

"Two officers have been hospitalised and eight have been treated at the scene," a spokesperson for the fire service told AFP.

The service added in a message on its Twitter page: "Major fire at Smethwick caused by a Chinese lantern – make sure you use them safely."

Emergency services were called to the fire at the J & A Young plant, which is on an industrial estate, at around 22:00 GMT on Sunday night.

Paper sky lanterns are increasingly popular at British celebrations, but there are growing concerns about their potential to cause fires.

The lanterns – which are essentially small hot-air balloons – have been banned in countries including Australia and the US states of Hawaii and Illinois.

Manufacturers say they should never be used near dry crops or within eight kilometres of an airport.

Read more on:    fires

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