A blaze at a historic Aberdeenshire castle was tackled by around 40 firefighters this evening.
The fire is said to have broken out on the ground floor of the four-storey tower house of Pitcaple Castle, north of Inverurie, at around 4.30pm yesterday.
The smell of smoke was thick in the woodlands around the privately-owned 15th century building, the walls of which were aglow with the blue flashing lights of several fire appliances and support vehicles.
Nobody was injured during the fire at the castle, once owned by the Clan Leslie, and said to have hosted such historical figures as James IV, Mary Queen of Scots and Charles II throughout the years.
A couple is said to live in the main castle building, while another couple are believed to live in a flat on its extension.
A resident, who lives in a property near to the building, last night described seeing the fire engines rushing past her windows to attend the incident.
She said: “There’s been fire engine upon fire engine coming through. I have got kids and they were counting the fire engines going by.
“We walked to the end of the road and all we could see was blue flashing lights, we didn’t know if it was a kitchen fire or what.
“The castle is so big it could have been started anywhere, you’d probably get lost in it. It’s such an old building, it could be anything.”
She added that she was relieved “everybody is okay”.
Two men and a woman – believed to be the occupants of the category-A listed castle and its extension – watched on last night helplessly as firefighters tackled the outbreak.
The woman, who did not wish to be named, said: “It’s a nightmare. We’re still waiting to hear the extent of the damage.”
Fire appliances were sent from Inverurie, Insch and Kintore, along with a water carrier from Turriff, an incident support vehicle from Dyce, a height vehicle from Aberdeen Central and a damage control unit from Altens.
The firefighters fought to contain the fire using six breathing apparatus, two hose reel jets and thermal imaging cameras.
The fire was brought under control by 6.30pm.
The extent of the damage to the castle is not yet known.