Chief fire officer calls for urgent sky lantern review

THE chief fire officer of Hereford & Worcester Fire and Rescue Service (HWFRS) is calling for an urgent review of sky lanterns after a devastating fire at a caravan park.

The incident, on Sunday, November 24 at Croft Farm Leisure Park, in Hardwick, Worcestershire, destroyed more than 80 towing caravans and mobile homes in storage. Although firefighters stopped the fire from spreading to a 2,000 litre LPG storage vessel, the damage caused was severe. Both HWFRS and Gloucestershire Fire and Rescue Service deployed a significant amount of fire engines to bring this blaze under control.

Following a thorough fire investigation including interviews with eye witnesses and viewing CCTV footage, HWFRS believes a sky lantern caused the fire.

Chief fire officer Mark Yates said: “Our investigation has concluded and we believe a sky lantern caused the fire. Whilst there is no doubt the lanterns are popular and are often used at events, the potential damage they can cause is significant. Not only do they pose a risk to livestock and agriculture but also to property, as was the case in this incident.

“It is quite bizarre that it can be considered acceptable to allow a lit object to float across towns and countryside without any knowledge of if or where it may land and subsequently cause a fire. I do not consider that it is acceptable to allow burning objects to be set free across our counties without any consideration of the damage they may do to property or livestock and I would ask event organisers not to use sky lanterns for any purpose.

“I believe now is the time to review their use and recognise they can pose a significant risk to property as this fire in Worcestershire demonstrates. Only a few months ago fire engines from Hereford and Worcester FRS assisted at large fire in a plastic recycling site in Smethwick which was also caused by a sky lantern.”

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