A HISTORIC MORAY mansion has been completely destroyed after an unexplained fire broke out in the early hours of Thursday morning.
Fifty firefighters fought the blaze at Blackhills House near Lhanbryde after they were alerted at around 4.30am. While the occupants managed to escape from the fire unharmed the fire quickly spread throughout the building.
Appliances were rushed to the scene from Elgin, Fochabers, Lossiemouth, Buckie, Rothes and Aberlour with a height vehicle called in from Inverness and an incident support vehicle from Aberdeen.
“This was a well-established fire that spread very quickly from the ground floor to the first floor of the property,” as spokeswoman for the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service said.
She added: “The occupants of the house were able to self-evacuate and raise the alarm. Crews used breathing apparatus and hose reel jets to tackle the fire which had split into sectors, while a height vehicle was also in attendance.
“The fire had been brought under control by 7.30 and firefighters remained at the scene to dampen the area down.”
Blackhills House sits on a 4000-acre estate that includes farms, woodland and moors, and is owned by John and Stephanie Christie who live there with other family members. The estate is popular with tourists during the summer months with several letting cottages and extensive gardens over 70 acres.
It is understood that the family had been alerted by smoke alarms, with Scottish Fire and Rescue Service Area Manager Duncan Smith, who is at the scene, saying: “The occupants of the property were alerted to the presence of a fire by their smoke alarm, which highlights the importance of having working smoke detection fitted in your property.
“Smoke alarms save lives and if your home doesn’t have smoke detection we would urge you to contact Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and book a free Home Fire Safety Visit. We can fit smoke alarms to your home free of charge.”
Police Scotland were also quickly at the scene and were working with fire investigators to try and establish the cause of the blaze.