A FRESH countryside fire warning has been issued after a Yorkshire farmer found 11 freshly launched sky lanterns in a mown hay field last Tuesday morning (July 19).

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

A picture of the lanterns, found in hay awaiting baling in Bingley, West Yorkshire, was released to highlight the severity of the issue. 

CLA member farmer Martin Stone, who found the lanterns, said: “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.”

Temperatures of more than 40C have been recorded throughout the country and there has been a surge in wildfires.

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.

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“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.”