Warning issued over 'dangerous' social media prank after fire crews called to fake explosions

Fire chiefs in the region are urging people not to engage in a social media trend causing emergency services to attend hoax incidents.

Over the last few days, videos of fake explosions have been posted on video platforms as part of a new way to prank friends and family.

The videos are created using special effects on a mobile phone and are causing members of the public to call emergency services as they fear for the safety of their loved ones.

The trend has seen people film various appliances around their homes such as kettles, microwaves and ovens to create the effect of a sudden explosion caused by one of the devices.

Crews at West Midlands Fire Service were first called to an incident in Tipton on November 30 after a man called 999 in response to one of the videos – only for firefighters to find out that it was fake.

Then, on Sunday, Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service took a call from a distressed mother who reported a house fire at her address.

She was out at the time when her daughter sent her one of the videos.

Crews were sent from Hanley, Longton and Sandyford to the scene – fearing a sudden explosion and the potential for serious injuries.

Other emergency service colleagues from Staffordshire Police and West Midlands Ambulance Service also sent blue-light resources to help.

Once crews arrived, they realised the incident wasn’t real.

Head of operations at Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service, Jim Bywater, said: “Hoax calls can create a great deal of disruption for emergency service colleagues across the UK.

“We know this particular incident wasn’t targeted at the fire service, but we want to show how this can develop and become a serious cause of alarm.

"Modern phones are brilliant bits of kit and are capable of doing lots of things. In this case, however, they are causing people to mistake fake videos for real-life emergencies involving their loved ones.

“Please don’t frighten your friends and family by doing this. It’s second nature for them to call us if they see something like this and it can result in widespread disruption and potentially a lack of resources to attend an actual emergency.”

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