THE Country Alliance today apologised to Britain's fire fighters after their chain of fiery beacons the length and breadth of the country last night caused hundreds of people to dial 999.
The CA organised 2,800 beacon fires from Scotland to London - 40 of them in Yorkshire - in protest against plans to ban fox hunting, an opening gambit to Sunday's huge Liberty and Livelihood march on London.
But although CA officials had warned local fire brigades that the beacons were planned - and even supplied map coordinates of their positions - firemen felt they had no alternative but to answer hundreds of emergency calls just in case there was a dangerous blaze in the vicinity.
This morning, the CA issued an apology for the false alarms - but many members were secretly delighted that their protests had attracted so much public attention - even un-intentionally.
In another development, thousands of pupils at independent boarding schools have been given permission to take Sunday off in order to attend the London march.