A MAJOR rescue operation was sparked by a hoax call to the fire brigade in Leigh on Sunday afternoon.
A call made from a mobile phone to Leigh Fire Service stated there was a woman in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near Henry Street shortly after midday.
Two fire engines from the St Helens Road station along with a specialist Water Incident Unit from Eccles were dispatched to the site, and police and ambulances also attended the scene.
The emergency services searched the waters of the canal for the woman in need of rescuing for around half an hour before concluding there had been no incident.
Greater Manchester Police are now attempting to prosecute whoever was responsible, and the fire service is urging the public to be more aware of the cost and dangers of hoax calls.
Crew manager Alex Sugden said: “Hoax calls tie up appliances which are then unavailable for other incidents.
“This was a particularly serious incident because of the nature of it, which meant the Water unit was unavailable for genuine calls.
“The water team had driven a considerable distance, making a high-speed, blue-light run which presents unnecessary dangers to other road users.
“The police are now investigating the incident and will be trying to find the person who was responsible. and if possible they will be prosecuting.”
Anyone with any information about this incident or any other hoax calls should contact Firestoppers on 0800 923 9999 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.