Deputy sheriffs rushed into a home with guns drawn in response to a series of 911 calls, but found out they had been summoned by a tomato.

Authorities became interested last weekend when a Montgomery County dispatcher traced repeated emergency calls as coming from the home of Linda and Danny Hurst.The Hursts were not home, so police figured someone might have broken in. Deputies went in with their guns drawn and found the house empty.

Then Danny Hurst, who had been called to the scene, found an overripe tomato in a hanging basket dripping juice onto a telephone-answering machine below.

As best police can figure it, the juice from the distressed tomato shorted out the machine's dialing system, causing it to call the sheriff's department emergency line.

"It just burst," said Montgomery County Chief Deputy Milton Graham. "Then it called us. I guess it needed help . . . or cleaning up."