Chinese lanterns are "lethal" and should not be used in Marlborough during the dry months, the district's chief firefighter says.
Principal rural fire officer for the Marlborough Kaikoura Rural Fire District Richard McNamara said burning lanterns should never be released into the air around Marlborough in hot dry summers, saying they were were particularly dangerous.
"They are lethal. Once lit and released, people lose all control of these ‘floating fires' and if they come down still burning onto dry vegetation then fire spread is inevitable."
He warned the costs for fighting any fire caused by a lantern, and the cost of any fire damage, would be charged against whoever lit the lantern. "I suggest that anyone considering buying them should think first about their own level of insurance cover and whether it would cover the cost of a rural fire."
The lanterns were popular at events such as weddings and birthdays but rural fire authorities are lobbying to have them banned. Some other countries, including Australia, Canada and Britain had already done so.
"As it dries out and gets hotter with the onset of summer, people need to think very carefully about what might spark a fire.."
- The Marlborough Express