Following serious fires started by the floating and lit Chinese lanterns used in advertising for HSBC and Absout vodka a number of calls have been made for their restriction or banning on safety grounds.

CCTV footage recently showed a lantern landing on stacks of plastic recycling material at a factory in Smethwick and setting it alight within eight minutes, a major blaze involving 200 fire-fighters and 35 fire engines.

After being lit and launched the lanterns can travel, out of anyone’s control, for many miles and can set fire to standing and stored crops, moorland and buildings. Fire services are urging politicians to review the sale and use of an item that is “just not safe”. Around 200,000 are sold in the UK every year.

The lanterns have also featured on a TV show hosted by chef Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, and one by food-lover Sue Perkins, who reportedly also came across to some as one egg short of an omelette when she “marvelled at how wonderfully simple but effective” the lanterns were at “making beautiful light in the night sky” according to one manufacturer.

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