A METEOR shower sparked a call out for emergency services off the coast of Cumbria.

Workington RNLI and Maryport and Whitehaven Coastguard teams were called out after multiple reports of red flares over the Solway Firth.

The RNLI’s Dorothy May White and the John F Mortimer boats were launched at 9.25pm on Friday and searched the sea between Workington and St Bees.

Meanwhile, Whitehaven and Maryport Coastguard rescue teams took up observation points along the coast.

But it soon came to light that the calls were prompted by a meteor shower rather than a vessel in distress.

Tim Chittenden, Workington RNLI lifeboat operations manager, said: “Our volunteer crew found nothing amiss and then we began to get reports that there was a possible meteor shower travelling over Cumbria.

“It appears that concerned people had seen it over the Solway Firth and reported it.

“This was done with good intent and we thank the people who reported what they saw. It’s a first for us to be called out due to a meteor shower, but the sky was very clear on Saturday. “

The first report came from a ferry travelling to Ireland and later calls from the Workington area prompted the crews to head out.

Teams contacted local marinas to check if there were any overdue vessels, but none had been reported and the Coastguard searched local launch points.

The RNLI crew of six volunteers were lead by coxwain Stephen McAllister and were out for an hour and a half.

The Coastguard teams, with Stuart Fawcett at the helm, were out for around an hour.

Mr Chittenden said: “It’s not that unusual for meteors to be reported as red flares.

“You can’t see red flares from very far, so when we realised there were reports sighting meteors as far as Windermere and not having found anything, we worked out what people could see were meteors.

“It’s very commendable that people didn’t hang around and called the coastguard.

“We do get calls for false alarms, for example if someone sees a firework, a light, or something like that, it’s not unusual.

“But we don’t want to discourage the public from reporting it, a red flare is a distress signal and it needs to be checked out.”

He added: “If anyone is unsure of something they spot at sea and think a vessel or a person is in trouble, please call 999 and ask for the Coastguard.”