A FLARE that was set off in what is thought to be a false alarm was responded to be four lifeboats, one helicopter and the coastguard rescue team.

At around 8.20pm Burnham Coastguard Rescue Team was tasked by the UK Coastguard to investigate reports of a red distress flare that was spotted in Bridgwater Bay.

Reports had come from both sides of the Bristol Channel, including from Cardiff Airport.

Two members of the team stayed on the sea front to keep watch for other flares, while the rest of the team took the coastguard vehicle to Brean Down.

Two lifeboats from Burnham, one from Barry Dock and another from Penarth were also launched to search the area.

A coastguard rescue helicopter took to the skies to carry out a full search of the area.

It was reported that someone from the BARB hovercraft team had seen the flare and recorded it on his phone.

A spokesman said: "Our station officer was sent the video and while watching it he recognised one of the distinctive buildings in the background.

"He then set about using Google Street View to find the said building, once he had established this he was then able to work out that the flare had actually been fired inland.

"A screenshot was sent across to Milford Haven Ops Room and they cross referenced the time of the video with their reports and after double checking on their system using the information we had given them managed to plot the sightings they had seen and match them all together.

"Once this had been done the search was able to be halted and all units stood down."

The spokesman warned that flares shouldn’t be used as fireworks as it can lead to valuable resources being wasted.

The spokesman added: "Thankfully there was no one in danger on this occasion but this also means that this was a thoughtless use of a vital piece of safety equipment.

"Distress flares are not fireworks and in this case led to the calling out of four lifeboats, one helicopter and a coastguard Team, without the information and the sharp local knowledge of our station officer the search would've had to continue until daylight and possibly beyond.

"Please do not misuse marine pyrotechnics, they are not for display purposes and can result in valuable resources being diverted from other emergencies.

"This call out was a great example of how critical local knowledge is, and how thinking outside the box can bring about a quick and successful outcome."