December 11 2013 Latest news:
Sunday, September 15, 2013
A bomb disposal team from Colchester blew up some “highly dangerous” flares at West Runton beach this afternoon, at the end of a weekend that saw three lifeboats and coastguard officials involved in a futile search costing thousands of pounds.
The team was called to West Runton after the flares - dating from 1985-7 and 20 years past their use-by date - were discovered.
The beach was sealed off and the experts carried out a controlled explosion.
It was the final incident of a dramatic weekend for coastal safety teams from Sheringham and Cromer, which began when Sheringham lifeboat and the inshore and outshore boats from Cromer were launched after reports of a flare being let off at East Runton at 11.44am on Saturday.
Humber Coastguard also checked with air traffic control and the region’s air bases to ensure that nothing was amiss in the air, and the three boats searched for 45 minutes in rough seas, while coastguards searched the land.
Cromer’s offshore boat was then stuck at sea for a further four-and-a-half hours before the North Sea was calm enough for it to get back into its shed at the end of the pier.
Jerry Woodley, coastguard station officer for Sheringham, said: “After that incident, we found another red flare on the beach at East Runton on Saturday.
“And on Sunday at 9.30am there were reports of more flares at West Runton beach. We’ve got a big issue with it. To fire a flare is highly dangerous and very irresponsible.
“It caused a massive search that tied up three lifeboats and the coastguards, cost lots of money and time. It caused huge inconvenience for a lot of lifeboat crew and for us. We cannot ignore these things because it may be somebody in trouble.”
He added: “It looks as though somebody has dumped the flares overboard and they have washed onto the beach. We want the public to know that the flares are incredibly dangerous.
“When they go off, they climb 300m straight up in 2.4 seconds. If you are leaning over one when it goes off, you are dead.”
Mr Woodley said he feared more would be washed ashore, and warned people to not touch them, but to contact the coastguard or police.
Richard Leeds from Cromer lifeboat said it was a “hell of an operation” on Saturday, and added: “These flares have been water damaged and are pretty delicate. I would hate to see anybody touch them in the state they’re in.”