Coastguard rescue teams and both Redcar lifeboats searched the coastline near Marske last night after a police officer reported the sighting of the flare while out on patrol.
The line of sight of the flare suggested it could have been fired from the sea. After the lifeboats had launched, a message was posted on the Redcar RNLI social media pages asking for any further information regarding the sighting. A member of the public responded to the message and contacted UK Coastguard and admitted to firing the flare inland at Brotton, to dispose of it, because the flare was out of date and faulty.
The search teams were then stood down. Dave Cocks, Lifeboat Operations Manager at Redcar RNLI said: "It is never acceptable to fire a distress flare in any other circumstances except an emergency at sea. In fact it is illegal.
"And it is certainly very dangerous to the user to fire an out-of-date, faulty or damaged flare."
Nearly two dozen lifeboat and coastguard personnel were involved in the search, some checking along the cliff tops in darkness.
Advice on the proper disposal of distress flares can be found on the Maritime and Coastguard Agency website.