A LANDOWNER is furious after a Chinese lantern destroyed thousands of pounds worth of barley.

Twenty five firefighters tackled the severe crop blaze at Stonesfield near Woodstock, which started after a lantern, set off at a nearby birthday celebration, landed in the field.

The blaze destroyed six acres of barley worth between £3,000 and £4,000.

The crop was due to have been harvested in just three days.

Last night Karen Evins, of Charity Farm in Woodstock Road, who owns the land with her husband Roger, said: “We’ve lost a third of a field.

“They shouldn’t even be selling the lanterns and these people shouldn’t have been letting them off. It was a very dry crop, you could see it was a dry crop, so why on earth would you light a naked flame?

“Had it gone the other way, the houses all along Greenfield Crescent would have possibly been at risk.”

In a message to anyone con-sidering launching lit lantern into the air, she said: “Don’t do it.

“We don’t even light a bonfire at this time of year, we have got very dry conditions, the grass is practically brown.”

Fire crews were called to the scene at 9.30pm on Friday night.

Firefighters used water jets and beaters to prevent the blaze spreading to nearby hedgerows and neighbouring crops.

Incident commander John Nixon said crews were attending more and more fires caused by lanterns and urged the public to think twice before setting them alight.

He said: “The fire was caused by a Chinese lantern that had drifted over the field and had come down setting the field alight.

“The lantern had been released from a nearby house which had been holding a birthday celebration.

“We are attending more and more of these incidents recently and they have been all caused by Chinese lanterns.”

He added: “While we are happy for people to celebrate special occasions, they must consider the potential damage these lanterns can cause.

“Our advice is, if you are really resolute about using a Chinese lanterns, please consider the potential for fires being caused and the effect it can have on both the countryside and an individual’s property.

“If in doubt don’t use them.”