Wiltshire Fire and Rescue Service is again warning people about the dangers of Chinese lanterns, ahead of the Christmas and New Year celebrations.

Chinese lanterns, also known as wish or flying lanterns, have become increasingly popular worldwide as a means of celebrating special occasions, but they carry a significant risk of fire or injury if not used wisely.

The lanterns are generally made from paper, supported by a wire frame that incorporates a holder at the base for a solid fuel heat source.

Last year, a family in Trowbridge had a lucky escape when a lantern set fire to their house.

Watch Manager Neil Chamberlain, from the community safety department, said: “With Chinese lanterns, you’re basically throwing a naked flame into the sky with no control over the direction it will take or where it will land.

“In addition, there is no guarantee that the fuel source will be fully extinguished and cooled when the lantern eventually descends, and that presents a real fire hazard.”

He added: “Chinese lanterns are very attractive when they’re in the sky, and we fully understand why people use them.

“We would just urge anyone who’s thinking of buying some for the festive period to think very carefully about where they will be released.”

Locations that should be considered unsuitable for flying lanterns include areas with standing crops, anywhere near buildings with thatched roofs, areas of dense woodland and areas of heath or bracken, especially in dry conditions. Consideration should also be given to the proximity to major roads or airfields.

An advice sheet on the use of Chinese lanterns is available at www.wiltsfire.gov.uk