Yorkshire farmer stunned as 11 'fire bomb' sky lanterns land in his field during heatwave

A Yorkshire farmer has spoken out in disbelief after finding 11 sky lanterns released during this week's record-breaking heatwave landed in his field.

Martin Stone, from Bingley in West Yorkshire, found 11 freshly-launched sky lanterns in his mown hay field on Monday morning.

Mr Stone said he struggled to believe people would let off such potential "fire bombs" in the current weather conditions.

“I found 11 fire lanterns in the meadow," he said.

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    The sky lanterns were found in a Bingley field on Monday

    "The hay was dry, in rows and ready to be baled on one of the hottest days ever, in very dry conditions. If the hay had caught fire from the lanterns with their bamboo frame and wire - both hazards in themselves - the wind would have quickly spread it to other fields full of hay as well as our building half full of hay and machinery. It would also have endangered nearby properties.

    “I find it inconceivable that people, without any thought, can let these fire bombs go into the sky without knowing where they will land or what damage they could cause. You wouldn’t throw a lighted match over the garden fence if you knew it could travel for miles, so why would you release these things? Today’s world is getting further and further removed from the farming and natural world.”

    The CLA (Country Land and Business Association) is calling on the public to take extra care in the countryside due to the currently increased fire risk.

    CLA Director North Lucinda Douglas said: “It is absolutely incomprehensible that sky lanterns are released, especially at this time of year as it is literally akin to ‘fly tipping’ fire at random.”

    “An increasing number of local authorities are banning the release of lanterns from council-owned land, and we hope the Government will take note of a growing desire to see the use of these ‘flying bonfires’ banned outright.”

    “In the past, we have witnessed the devastating impacts wildfires fires can have, both on rural communities and farmers, as well as scarring the landscape and destroying wildlife. We appeal to the public and farmers to be extra vigilant when out and about in the countryside.”

    “The tinderbox dry conditions on farmers’ fields is also of concern, especially as harvesting operations are in full swing. Farmers ought to check for dust build-up in their combines, as it is a common cause of fire.

    “We encourage all farmers to equip themselves with fire extinguishers, or to have bowsers in strategic places around their field in case of fire, as well as checking their vehicles for faults which may release sparks onto dry stubble.”

    The risk of fire, especially on hillsides, moors and heathland, has been elevated by high temperatures this week, coupled with a long spell of dry weather.

    Wildfires have the capability to devastate farmland, wildlife and also pose a risk to the lives of people living and working in rural and adjacent communities. Reducing the risk of wildfires is key at this time of the year, and raising awareness is one way in which the risk can be reduced.

    Earlier this week, Cabinet Office Minister Kit Malthouse confirmed the Government was very concerned about the risk of wildfires on moorland while yesterday saw devastating fires across the country burning down homes.

    Last night, Northamptonshire Fire and Rescue Service said they had also received reports of sky lanterns being let off.

    The service wrote on Twitter: "These pose a HUGE fire risk all year round but tonight, it is quite frankly reckless and endangering life, wildlife, crops & property. PLEASE STOP!"