EMERGENCY services have welcomed the cancellation of a sky lantern festival because of the fire risk to surrounding moorland in the current tinder dry conditions caused by the current heatwave..
The Lights Fest was due to have taken place at Buxton Raceway, at Bramfield, on the Derbyshire/Staffordshire border.
The racing circuit is only a few miles from where a huge fire recently destroyed more than 120 acres of heathland in the Staffordshire Moorlands.
More than 40 firefighters were called out to the quickly spreading blaze which broke out between Thorncliffe and Shawfield on Saturday, June 30, and took several days to get under control.
A Derbyshire Police spokesman said: “Our concern with this event was that potentially thousands of paper lanterns could have carried naked flames across the Peak District, with no way of knowing where they would land.
“At the very base level, the countryside could have become littered with the remnants of these lanterns. But they also pose a risk to wildlife and property, and could start fires in a countryside that is already extremely dry due to the hot weather.
“The devastation caused with the recent moorland fires shows just how serious fires in the open can be and how quickly they can spread.
“We felt this would have posed an unnecessary risk of fire and so, together with our partner agencies, we looked at ways that we could stop the event from taking place.
“I’m pleased the Buxton Raceway management has taken our concerns and advice on board and decided to cancel the event themselves.”
A Derbyshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “The increase in outdoor fires we’ve attended over the last couple of weeks and the scale of the ongoing moorland fires highlights just how easily fires can start and spread while everything is dry.
“With this in mind, the idea of lighting and releasing fire lanterns on tinder dry moorland is extremely reckless, so it’s great news that this [lantern festival] has been cancelled.”
More than 9,000 people signed a petition calling for the event not to go ahead due to fears over potential impact to the countryside and wildlife.
Wildfires at this time of year are particularly bad because it is the peak breeding season for wildlife.
Since 1976 there have been over 350 reported incidents of wildfires in the Peak District of which the majority are commonly started by arson, discarded cigarettes, barbecues and campfires.