Rescue flare sparked Bradda Head blaze

Image caption,
Up to 40 firefighters tackled the blaze at Bradda Head

A flare fired during a lifeboat search and rescue operation sparked a gorse fire on an Isle of Man headland.

Port Erin lifeboat and the coastguard had been searching the area around Bradda Head after a walker reported hearing someone shouting in distress.

One of the flares fired into the air drifted over the land and, because of a malfunction, was alight when it landed - setting fire to the gorse bush.

Up to 40 firefighters were sent to tackle the fire on Tuesday night.

The fire eventually burnt itself out and damage was restricted to a small area, a lifeboat spokesperson said.

Seal cries

The search for the source of the shouts continued while the fire was burning but it was eventually called off after no-one was found.

Lifeboat crews believe the cries of seals on the rocky foot of Bradda Head were mistaken for those of a distressed person.

Lifeboat Operations Manager Geof Staples said: "I would like to stress that crew members are fully trained in the use of pyrotechnics such as these flares, and this incident was caused by circumstances beyond our control.

"At no time was anyone endangered by the use of the flares, which are an essential aid to such night-time searches.

"This incident was primarily due to a malfunction, the cause of which is currently being investigated."

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