A huge fire engulfed an Aberdeen hotel this evening, forcing residents to flee their rooms and leave their possessions behind.
The blaze partially destroyed the Britannia Hotel, Bucksburn, after taking hold just before 5pm.
More than 90 firefighters from across the city and the north-east were called to the hotel.
Huge plumes of thick, black smoke could be seen billowing from the Malcolm Road site for miles around as evening commuters made their way home from work.
The flames burned through the hotel’s Village Pub, while the worst-hit areas were the buildings at the rear of the site.
Witnesses said the blaze escalated from smoke to flames within minutes.
Colin Cowcher, who was visiting the city from Western Australia, was having a drink with his wife in the hotel bar when the fire alarm sounded.
The sheep farmer said the ferocity of the blaze was similar to the bush fires he had witnessed back home.
He said: “We all came outside and saw a bit of smoke coming from the bar then up it went, once it got started, it just kept going.
“Then the fire brigade came as quickly as they could and away it went.
“Everyone moved us to safety, they (the hotel staff) were pretty good. We’re not allowed back in our rooms.”
“We’ve got our passport but we didn’t get our clothes or the keys to the car, we’ve got a hire car sitting on the other side of the hotel, so we’ll just wait and see.
“Thankfully everyone’s alive though, and that’s the main thing”
“We have fires like this at home, but not in buildings, in the bush and forestry,” he added.
Police sealed off Malcolm Road, Old Meldrum road and a number of side streets.
Twelve appliances, with five specialist vehicles, surrounded the hotel.
Bangs and pops could be heard as crowds of onlookers gathered on the streets and in nearby gardens to catch a glimpse of the flames.
Between five and 10 homes had to be evacuated from the streets surrounding the hotel.
It was not known how many residents had to be rescued from the hotel but the fire service said there were no reports of any injuries or anyone missing.
Many of the people staying in the hotel were construction workers based at the nearby Aberdeen bypass works, and surrounding housing developments.
Kevin Gibson, a steeplejack, had been returning to the hotel when he he heard about the fire.
He said: “My boss phoned me and said ‘I don’t think you’re going to get in your hotel any time soon, it’s on fire’.
“You could see the flames higher than the roof levels of the houses.”
Senior fire officers said it was unclear what had sparked the blaze.
Graeme Hay, station manager, said: “The hotel was very busy at this time of the year.
“The priority was to extinguish the fire and to make sure there was no life risk.
“I haven’t spoken to the hotel management but I would guess they would do their utmost to get the hotel back to reality but it would be a number of days before it’s up and running properly.”