SMETHWICK : More than 200 firefighters were on Monday battling a major blaze at a recycling plant in Britain after a falling Chinese lantern set 100,000 tonnes of paper and plastic alight.

Ten firefighters suffered minor injuries as they fought to put out the flames at the plant in Smethwick, just outside Britain's second city Birmingham in central England, the local fire department said.

The fire sent a massive plume of smoke rising 1,800 metres (6,000 feet) into the sky which could be seen for miles around. "Two officers have been hospitalised and eight have been treated at the scene," a spokeswoman for the fire service told AFP.

The service added in a message on its Twitter page: "Major fire at Smethwick caused by a chinese lantern -- make sure you use them safely."