Chinese lantern sparks fire alert

Firefighters free the stray lantern from Marine Court
Firefighters free the stray lantern from Marine Court
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A STRAY Chinese lantern sparked a fire after it got stuck among scaffolding outside Marine Court in St Leonards.

Firefighters had to use an aerial ladder platform to put out the burning lantern and remove the remains.

It drifted across from the beach after being lit at a wedding celebration on the beach outside Azur, Marina Pavilion, just before 10.30pm.

Rather than blowing out towards the sea, the wind direction meant the lantern became trapped in green netting on scaffolding outside Marine Court. No damage to the building was caused and no one was evacuated. Bill Norris, who lives in Marine Court, said the lantern was burning inside the netting outside his flat.

He said: “I was watching the Olympics closing ceremony when I could see flashing lights. I saw the road had been closed off as the firefighter came up to remove it. He was very efficient.”

Watch Commander Doug Marshall, from Bohemia Road Fire Station, praised the actions of a passing taxi driver who spotted the fire and immediately alerted the emergency services.

Firefighters put out the blaze within 20 minutes but are now warning of the dangers of using Chinese lanterns.

A couple of them were even discovered in the drill yard on Monday at the fire station in Bohemia Road.

Steve Wright, community safety team manager at East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service, said: “During the summer period, these lanterns pose an even greater threat. There has been concern raised about these lanterns landing in fields of dry crops. We have an example of a house fire in Kent, caused by a sky lantern on our Black Museum website. The website address is www.blackmuseum.info.”

Chinese lanterns are airborne paper lanterns, constructed from rice paper on a bamboo frame.