The fire service is warning people of the risks of Chinese or sky lanterns after fire in Northam garden.

A fire in a garden in Northam is believed to have been started by a Chinese lantern.

Two fire engines from Bideford were called to the incident in Benson Drive on the evening of Wednesday, March 9.

Graham Rooke, station manager, said: “The owner of the premises was out and his neighbour found a fire in his garden and called us.

“Luckily the fire was only small, damaging a fence and recycling bin, however it could have been far worse.”

A number of Chinese lanterns were found in the nearby area.

The use of sky, or Chinese, lanterns is growing in popularity and they are often seen in the night sky during celebrations.

The fire service does not recommend their use due to the fire hazards and risks they pose to property, crops, livestock and the environment.

The National Farmers Union has also received numerous reports of harm to livestock, and in some instances death, caused by cattle ingesting the metal wires in the lantern frames.

If a lantern does start a fire the person launching it could be held responsible.