YOUTHS playing with firecrackers caused a major police operation when a resident mistook the bangs for gunfire and called 999.

The police spotter plane was seen Monday lunchtime, dipping around Queen's Avenue and North Camp for an hour before circling the Lakes on the A331.

Sgt Richard Wheeler, of Aldershot police, said the drama started at 1pm and put a considerable strain on resources.

He said: "A member of the public was out walking and thought he heard gun shots coming from the fishing lakes on the Blackwater Valley Relief Road. Obviously, we have to take reports of this kind seriously."

Sgt Wheeler said police searched the area for over an hour, adding: "It was a real drain on our resources.

"We diverted officers to the area to attend and it turned out to be a group of males misusing fireworks."

He said the teenagers' details were taken but they were not charged.

The spotter plane itself caused considerable anxiety to some residents in the area who did not realise it was a police search unit.

One resident from the Avondale estate, Ash, rang the News to say she believed the plane was in difficulty.

"It went round and round and round overhead for at least 15 minutes," she said.

"First only one of the wheels came down and then the other one came down. I don't know if there was trouble with the landing gear."

She called again minutes later to say it had disappeared.