11 Jul 2010

Sky lantern sets fire to tree in Whiteshill

A couple of weeks ago I had a call from a resident who had a sky lantern 'crash' into her tree - her husband was able to put the lantern out with only a small amount of damage to the tree. However things could have been much worse. Sadly there appears little we can do at the moment otherthan raise awareness of this issue. You will see part of response from Gloucestershire Trading Standards below.

Photos: Me holding the lantern and close ups of lantern that set fire to tree plus a pic of one coming over the Ruscombe Valley this last week

The lantern that set fire to the tree was one of 6 set off near-by: we don't know the location. However on viewing the lantern it does look particularly flimsy. I sent photos to Trading Standards with the residents and my own concerns. I wondered how it could meet trading standards?

I also noted that Australia have placed a temporary ban on the Sky Lanterns party products while others have banned them completely. Clearly they are a fire hazard particularly if not handled correctly or of poor quality? The paper lanterns use flammable liquid or a candle to produce hot air which inflates them and then sends them up into the sky. All safe as long as they go up and no strong wind or flaw in the lantern or how it was launched. When they land they leave their metal parts which I understand have injured cattle.

The other side of the argument is that they may be seen as no more harmful than a firework although I really am not sure that this is the case?

Interestingly the SNJ ran a letter last week about lanterns over Selsley Common - not teh UFOs that folk originally thought some years ago - anyhow they note that Countryfile covered teh story where a foal died after panicking. The NFU is now campaigning to stop this form of littering following numerous reports of harm to livestock. Apparently even the ones with a bamboo frame rather than wire can cause problems when contained in silage.

Trading Standards

Anyway Glos Trading Standards say they have received a couple of other queries about the safety of this product during the last couple of years - it would appear that they are becoming ever more popular. They note that a number of other Trading Standards Services have looked into the safety of these products, as concerns have been expressed by a number of people. They have concluded that the products do present a small risk of fire if they land when still burning, but that this risk is remote as there have been so few reports of problems, despite the product’s increased popularity.

Glos Trading Standards therefore do not currently have the evidence necessary to take immediate action to move or restrict its sale under consumer protection legislation at this time. It is also difficult as it is how the individual uses them. We do seem to have had relatively wet summers since they have been used and it is possible that the dry summer means the risk of fire will be significantly increased.

No doubt where they have been regulated or banned in countries the risk of fire is more significant because of environmental conditions - certainly that must be the case in Oz. Anyway Glos Trading Standards plan to monitor the situation so do send in any examples of dangers.


R said...

it would have to be a very strange tree for one of those lanterns to do much damage to.. Green wood doesn't burn easily.

As for cattle eating the frames....why not lets all give up on exploiting animals...and live dairy and rump free? Then we can all celebrate with lanterns.

Anonymous said...

I seen a lantern get caught on a fence and set fire to a clematis last year - it didn't light the fence but large parts of the plant were burnt - it's much drier this year.

Dairy and meat free sounds good to me - happy to send a lantern up for that but will leave it until Autumn and wetter weatehr.

Philip Booth said...

Thanks for comments - I just got an email with this:

There was an item in the Telegraph today about these paper lanterns as a barley field in Oxfordshire was set alight and the frie officer there said there had been other such incidents. Also, apparently there has been trouble in coastal areas because they have been mistaken for distress flares from boats.

I will copy article to Trading Standards as the author goes onto suggest.

Quality Sky Lanterns said...

Like fireworks they can be dangerous but when safety instructions are followed and quality eco sky lanterns are used it reduces the danger.