A historic north-east home and former garden centre has been completely destroyed by a massive blaze – which investigators believe was started intentionally.
The fire and rescue service yesterday confirmed the fire which left the Georgian-era Hillside House, near Portlethen, in ruins is being treated as willful.
It comes as police seek witnesses to the blaze, which was spotted at roughly 10pm on Friday night and resulted in the structure being left a “death trap”.
The home, once a garden centre, dates back to the early 1800s, and was described by locals last night as a “part of the local heritage”.
More than 30 firefighters from seven appliances battled the flames until 4am on Saturday morning, closing the northbound A90 Aberdeen to Stonehaven road in order to tackle it.
Yesterday station manager at North Anderson Drive, Gordon Riddell – who was incident commander during the blaze – added: “When the crews turned up we were faced with a well-developed fire which had extended through three floors and the roof on our arrival.
“Our tactic was to try and contain the fire, albeit it was well-developed before we arrived, and to protect any surrounding properties.
“We are working with Police Scotland on the case, which we consider was willful. There hasn’t been power to Hillside House in years.
“The building is 100% destroyed by the fire. We believe it had been going for some considerable time before we arrived. It is quite close to houses but surrounded by trees.”
A fire investigation team is looking into the cause of the incident.
Planning permission for the redevelopment of Hillside House was granted by Aberdeenshire Council in 2007, however no action is said to have been taken since.
Speaking last night North Kincardine Lib Dem councillor, Ian Mollison, said: “It was a lovely house but it has just deteriorated over the years and been left to fall apart basically, which is most unfortunate.
“I am disappointed to hear that it is the view of the fire service that it has come to the end of its life.
“It is just a blessing that no one was injured, that is something to thankful for.
“I look forward to seeing what is proposed for the site, if anything.
“Over the past nine years the place has become more and more decrepit, much to the concern of residents in the area.
“It is a shame that we have lost something so a part of our local heritage.”
Hillside House’s owner could not be reached for comment.