Rock band Muse caused a major fire alert after hundreds of residents mistook their pyrotechnics rehearsal at a football stadium – for a huge inferno.
Dramatic photographs uploaded to social networking sites on Monday evening appeared to show the Ricoh Arena, in Coventry, West Mids., fully ablaze.
Hundreds of people took to Twitter fearing the 32,500 seater home of Coventry City FC was on fire- including ex-footballer Robbie Savage who labelled them “terrible scenes”.
But within hours of the images being put online stadium officials confirmed the mystery ‘blaze’ was actually rockers Muse testing out special effects for their gig this evening.
On Monday evening a spokesman for the venue took to Twitter and said: “Just to confirm there is no fire here at the Ricoh Arena.
“They are just testing everything ready for Wednesday night’s Muse concert.”
While West Midlands Fire Service reassured locals and added: “There is no fire at the Ricoh Arena Coventry. Pyrotechnic testing is currently going on for a concert.”
Yesterday, Muse frontman Matt Bellamy appeared to see the funny side and tweeted: “We fired up the power station tonight. It nearly blew up Coventry! :)”
Sales assistant Kate Mulgrew, 18, who took the original picture which sparked the false alarm said she couldn’t believe the reaction it had caused.
Kate, whose snap was retweeted almost 500 times in 12 hours, said: “I was coming out of Starbucks with my friends at about 9pm and we just saw it.
“We weren’t really sure because we could see what looked like lots of fire. It was a big shock.
“I didn’t know Muse were there but I thought it couldn’t be an actual fire because there was no firefighters there.
“I can’t believe the reaction from everybody – people thought it was actually on fire.”
Before the matter was cleared up celebrities including BBC pundit Robbie Savage expressed their shock at the images.
Former England star Stan Collymore also tweeted: “Reports of a fire at The Ricoh Arena. Not sure if its pyrotechnics or a genuine fire.”
The image also sparked a host of jokes about current plight of Coventry City FC and the Ricoh Arena.
The venue is at the centre of a bitter dispute between the club owners Sisu – who are threatening to leave and build a new stadium – and stadium owners Arena Coventry Ltd.
Coventry, who play in League One, have refused to pay rent to play matches at the arena since last year.
@richardpfranks tweeted: “The Ricoh Arena is on fire… Insurance job?”
@Wanchope_Dickov added: “Reports coming in that the fire at the Ricoh arena has spread into the city of Coventry, causing an estimated #4m worth of improvements.”
The company behind the equipment which caused the widespread panic said the machine – called “The Spitfire liquid flame system’ – could fire flames up to 20m (65ft) in the air.
It was originally designed for Take That’s famous Circus Tour in 2009 and has been used at concerts all over the globe – as well as the opening ceremony of the London Olympics.
Amy Draper, a spokeswoman for Quantum Special Effects, said: “We had a bit of a giggle when we saw it had fooled everyone.
“A link was posted to our company director and we all opened the email and had a laugh seeing everyone in Coventry thinking their stadium was burning down.
“But really it was just us. It hasn’t happened before I don’t think because no-one has taken such a good picture.”