Chinese lanterns caused a huge blaze which continues to burn at a plastics recycling plant in Britain, senior fire officers have said.
About 100,000 tonnes of material are involved in the fire at the Jayplas recycling facility in Smethwick, near Birmingham, in what is one of the largest blazes in the region in recent years.
West Midlands Fire and Rescue Service area commander Steve Vincent said: “A Chinese lantern was spotted on CCTV floating across and into the site and starting a fire in plastic bales.”
The fire service said it had more than 35 appliances and at one point up to 200 firefighters at the scene in Dartmouth Road after the blaze was first reported at about 11pm last night.
Ten firefighters have been injured while tackling the flames, with two taken to hospital – one with an eye injury and a second with an ankle injury.
Eight others were treated at the scene for minor heat-related injuries, a spokesman for the service said.
Nearby residents have been advised to keep their windows and doors closed as a precaution.
A West Midlands Fire Service spokesman said: “Around 100,000 tonnes of plastic recycling material is involved in the blaze.
“We’ve had a couple of similar fires in the last few months in the region but there isn’t a trend.
“The blaze is certainly one of the largest we’ve tackled but not the largest ever.
“We’re making good progress at the moment at the scene.
“There is no danger to the public but we have advised residents to keep their windows and doors shut as a precautionary measure.”
There had been fears that flights at Birmingham International Airport could have been affected by the huge 6,000ft (1,830m) column of smoke thrown up from the intense blaze.
However, an airport spokesman said “operations were continuing as normal” and no flights had been affected.
Meanwhile, West Midlands Ambulance Service said a total of 11 firefighters had now been treated for a variety of injuries with three taken to hospital, although none are seriously hurt.
An ambulance service spokesman said the smoke plume from the blaze was so high it could be seen in Warwickshire, 30 miles away.
No-one from Jayplas – J&A Young (Leicester) Ltd – was immediately available for comment.