PEOPLE across northern England fled in panic last night claiming the 'cloud gods were shooting darts of angry fire across the sky'.
Emergency services from Carlisle to Middlesbrough were stretched to breaking point as thousands of soot-smeared villagers used their 'sorcerer's talking boxes' to phone the fire brigade.
But the exhausted crews were unable to keep up with demand as they dashed across the region, directing their hoses upwards in a bid to stop the clouds from bursting into flames.
A Home Office spokesman said: "Their natural reaction is to phone 999 as most Northerners believe the sky to be no more than 30ft high.
"You would think that the firemen would tell them not to worry, but of course northern firemen are still Northerners."
Meanwhile, south of Peterborough, the phenomenon was attributed to the Perseid meteor shower.
Cambridge astronomer Tom Logan said: "It is an annual astronomical event caused by debris from the Swift-Tuttle comet disintegrating in the upper reaches of the Earth's atmosphere. But of course to a Northerner, I may as well have said all that in Mandarin Chinese."
He added: "They're really just children. Unfortunately they're also huge, drunk children who will fling an old woman onto a bonfire if they think her cat is up to no good."
Stephen Malley, the deputy leader of Northallerton District Council, said: "The gods have tested us tonight, but I am glad to say our brave firemen were up to the task and the sky remains intact.
"However, it is clear that we have angered our invisible cloud masters and they must now be appeased with an extended period of sacrificial blood letting. I suggest we start with the poofters."