POLICE are searching for a prankster who sparked a major rescue operation with an April Fool hoax call to the fire brigade.
Local firefighters reacted with fury after the hoaxer wasted their time and resources with the false call-out.
The Fire Service received a mobile phone call saying there was a woman in the Leeds and Liverpool Canal near Henry Street, Leigh, shortly after midday on Sunday.
Two fire engines and a specialist Water Incident Unit were dispatched to the site, and police and ambulances also attended the scene.
The emergency services searched the canal for the woman in need of rescuing for around half an hour before concluding there was no incident.
Greater Manchester Police are now attempting to track down the culprit and stress they will prosecute whoever was responsible.
The fire service are now 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 have 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.