THE new year was just two minutes old when Wigan’s firefighters were first called into action.
A Chinese lantern sparked a dangerous blaze to a plastic engine shed in Ince. Inside were a petrol-powered lawn mower and strimmer.
Fortunately, owner Damien Peet ensured that neither machine had much petrol in when he stored them, potentially preventing a major explosion.
The lantern had sailed over Mr Peet’s house in West Street, where he lives with wife Rosie and two children, and landed on the plastic shed, which was next to a larger wooden one.
A neighbour saw the blaze take hold and immediately ran to alert the family.
Mr Peet said: “My wife and I were in bed watching television and my daughter was in her room when our neighbour started banging at the door.
“I rushed out to see really high flames and we got to work on putting it out with buckets of rain water.
“Nextdoor were having a new year party and they all rushed out and just started ripping down the fence it was next to to esnure it didn’t spread and thre water on it too.”
As well as the wooden shed, the fire was dangerously close to Mr Peet’s car and caravan as well as next door’s conservatory and wendy house.
It is estimated the cost of the damage is around £900 but were it not for the quick action of Mr Peet and his neighbours, it could have been so much worse. A warning has now been sent out to those thinking of using Chinese lanterns, often set off during celebrations.
Mr Peet added: “My advice would be to just not use them.
“My daughter said she saw loads floating by. They can cause so much damage.”
In total, Greater Manchester fire and rescue service were called out to five incidents across the region, with the Wigan and Hindley crews attending the fire in Ince.
Coun David Acton, Chairman of Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Authority, said: “While festivities might already be a distant memory for most, the people involved in these incidents will have stark and unpleasant reminders for some time to come.
“Fireworks and Chinese lanterns can be extremely dangerous - as the injuries and fires GMFRS’ crews attended on New Year’s Day prove - and should be used very carefully.
“Thankfully, our firefighters were there quickly to help these people and it seems that none of those involved was seriously injured.”