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Plant inferno leads to call for Chinese lantern ban

By Heather Saul

Emergency services have called for restrictions or bans on Chinese lanterns after one of the devices started a major fire involving 100,000 tons of plastic recycling material at a factory in the West Midlands.

Around 200 firefighters fought the blaze in Smethwick, which caused up to £6m of damage and sent thick plumes of smoke 6,000ft into the air.

CCTV footage showed a lantern landing on the plastic stacks in the factory which caught alight in eight minutes.

The paper lanterns fly gently after being lit, often for miles. Farmers say that they can set fire to barns and kill cows who try to eat them when they land.

The Chief Fire Officers' Association has urged an "urgent review" into the use of Chinese lanterns.

Firefighters were called out at 11.19pm on Sunday to the J&A Young recycling plant. The blaze required 35 fire engines. Two firefighters were taken to hospital and eight treated by ambulance staff.

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