Coastguards warn someone could have been maimed or even killed after an out of date flare was fired off in Fleetwood and crashed landed in a garden.
The flaming missile came close to youngsters playing in a nearby garden in the incident, which occurred on Sunday teatime.
Youths suspected of setting off the flare have been warned they are putting lives at risk, including their own, and should never be tempted to try and set one off.
The blisteringly hot flares can travel at 200 miles per hour, reach heights of 300 metres and burn at 30,000 candle power.
Volunteers from the Fleetwood coastguard team were called out after reports of a red distress flare near the former Rossall Hospital around 4.25pm on Sunday.
Witnesses saw two youths acting ‘suspiciously’ in the area and later running towards the Larkholme estate.
Mark Sumner, from Fleetwod Coastguard said: “We had two near misses.
“The flare appears to have been set off by youths who probably don’t know how to use them properly, so their lives were at risk, these things are like rockets.
“And if it had hit another person or a car, it doesn’t bear thinking about, we could have a major tragedy on our hands.
“This flare was fired on Sunday afternoon in what appeared to be a ‘false alert with malicious intent’.
“If a flare is set off as a hoax or unknowingly for example on bonfire night, this can divert resources away from real incidents putting lives in danger.
“The whole incident could have ended in disaster. The fired flare ended up in the gardens of a nearby a house, thankfully missing innocent children playing in gardens nearby.
“Not only that, but the children who fired the flare could have sustained serious, if not fatal injuries.
“This flare was out of date by seven years. If the flare had misfired, these children could have easily lost a limb, or worse their lives.”
“Members of the public should, however, always report instances of flares being set off to the coastguard.”
A team from Fleetwood-based coastguards carried out a search of the area around the former Rossall Hospital and further reports suggested that youths were seen running away from the scene.
The team found an empty casing from the flare inland and stood down.
It is not yet known how the flare was acquired.
Mr Sumner added: “It is worrying - this flare could have come from any number of sources.
“It could have been abandoned or stolen.
“But we would urge people never to try using one. Please tell us and we will collect it and take it away.”