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Chinese lantern sparks huge blaze in garden
A CHINESE lantern caused a huge blaze when it landed in a family’s garden.
Flames leapt 20ft high as the blaze in Winchester Road, Colchester, spread from conifer trees and along hedges at about 11.45pm on Saturday.
Claire Morris, 32, was enjoying a drink with her sister at home while her four-and-a-half-month-old son Sam slept just feet from the fire.
She said: “Our neighbour was hammering on the window shouting to get out because there was a fire in our garden.
“They called 999 and we got the baby from the back of the house.
“Neighbours were using hoses to damp down the sheds in the neighbouring gardens and we made futile attempts to throw buckets and any containers full of water on the fire.
“The fire brigade arrived minutes later and stopped the flames just feet from the house.”
Claire, who is due to get married in September to Jack Taylor, had been celebrating after the Starz Performing Arts Academy, which she runs, had performed Alice in Wonderland.
She had been due to run rehearsals yesterday before a charity show at the Mercury Theatre tomorrow but has spent the day digging up what remained of the garden.
She said: “The firefighters were asking if we had been smoking in the garden and could not believe the size of the blaze, but we found the cause.
“A Chinese lantern was found with a message which was very moving. A little girl who lost her mother a year ago had written it and they had set off the lantern.
“I suppose you just don’t think where it will end up.”
Claire said the firefighters were amazing and saved their home and thanked all her neighbours for their help.
She added: “If they hadn’t spotted it, we would not have known until the fire was at our door. We are saving for the wedding, but the garden now needs a lot of work.”
Claire hopes people will hear what happened to her and think twice about using Chinese lanterns because when you set something on fire and let it go you can’t control what will happen to the flames.
“If this makes someone think again about using these sort of lanterns then that would certainly help,” she added.