Police are on the trail of a malicious caller who sparked a massive emergency operation at a derelict Wigan mill in the early hours.
Firefighters blasted the hoax caller and Greater Manchester Police (GMP) confirmed they are looking into the matter.
Three fire engines from Wigan and Hindley stations and police officers were all called to the Pagefield Building at around 3.45am on Wednesday following false reports there was a fire.
As it was also incorrectly claimed someone was trapped in the building fire crews had to carry out a painstaking search of the entire site in darkness.
The hoax call tied up the emergency services for around an hour and the irresponsible individual responsible has been heavily criticised.
Emergency services are also warning Wiganers tempted to place malicious calls that they will not hesitate to prosecute.
Watch manager Jim Clitheroe from Wigan fire station said: “If there had been an incident elsewhere within the area response times would have been delayed as we were tied up on a malicious call.
“This sort of thing does waste fire service time. In this case they have been identified and we are now helping the police with their enquiries.
“It’s just so dangerous. We had to search the entire abandoned building and that’s quite a tricky task at 4am. We had thermal cameras checking for heat signatures and a lot of people were having to go round the site because it’s enormous.
“Our control did a really good job alongside the police to ascertain where the call came from so further action can be taken.”
GMP confirmed police attended the scene and searched the building but found no evidence of the fire which had been reported.
The police force also said somebody had already been spoken to by officers and further enquiries are ongoing.
All calls to emergency numbers such as 999 are recorded and can be traced and mobile phone service providers all co-operate with the authorities to provide numbers which have been used to place malicious calls.
In some circumstances hoax calls can have their phones disconnected for repeat offences.