A north-east farmer has been left counting the cost of a huge fire which tore through a barn full of hay bales.
The steading near Ellon was destroyed in the blaze on Saturday night, and all that remained of the smouldering structure yesterday were blackened metal beams.
The alarm was raised at 6.50pm and firefighters worked through the night to tackle the flames at Fortree Farm, just off Riverside Road.
The building, which measures 25ft by 15ft, was “well alight” when they arrived at the scene and police yesterday remained stationed at the site.
A spokesman for the force said an inquiry into the circumstances had been launched.
Four fire trucks were called to the incident, two from Ellon and two from Aberdeen, along with a water carrier from Turriff.
Yesterday the owners of Fortree Farm declined to comment on what had happened.
But their neighbours described the impact on the couple, and on the surrounding community.
One said: “The steading was full to the brim.
“Those hay bales are used across so many of the nearby fields – it will be a huge loss for them.”
Another said: “It was quite alarming to see the fire engines come down the road – I feel for the family.”
Firefighters worked through the night to tackle the steading fire – but all of the bales were destroyed.
The fire appliances left the scene at 5.31am yesterday but two police units remained throughout much of the day – with a “dangerous building” sign erected at the entrance to the steading.
A spokeswoman for the fire service said: “Throughout the night units went back to the scene and checked to make sure there was no chance of the fire restarting.”
Three years ago, Fortree Farm was struck by a similar blaze as about 50 hay bales caught fire on October 23, 2015.
Police again were involved in the process, and appealed for information adding that there had been “serious financial implications to the owners of the bales” and that those responsible had acted “mindlessly”.
Last night, police confirmed they were investigating but could offer no further details.
A spokeswoman said: “We were called to Fortree Farm in Ellon at 7.50pm on Saturday night.
“Inquiries are ongoing.”