A hotelier has thanked firefighters for saving the building after tackling a blaze that destroyed a row of holiday lodges.
Graham Wood and his wife Gillian, who own the luxury Chester Hotel in Aberdeen, bought Glen Lui Hotel in Ballater last summer.
The couple were still considering their options for the estate, which also included holiday lodges.
But on Friday night, a “devastating” fire tore through the wooden chalets – with firefighters working for more than four hours to stop the flames from spreading.
Last night Mr Wood, whose father is billionaire businessman Sir Ian Wood, praised the teams for protecting not only the Victorian hotel but also the neighbouring properties on Invercauld Road.
A neighbour raised the alarm at about 9pm on Friday, with crews from Braemar, Balmoral, Aboyne and a water carrier from Stonehaven racing to the scene.
Mr Wood said: “On Friday evening I learned that part of the Glen Lui property was on fire – the fire being in a row of chalet style rooms in the grounds which has been substantially damaged.
“It is thanks to the quick reporting of the fire by a neighbour and the excellent work by firefighters from several stations across the area that this fire was contained to the freestanding block and didn’t reach the main building, the many mature trees on site nor any neighbouring properties.”
Neighbours reported seeing smoke “billowing into the sky” and lined the streets as the drama unfolded.
The lodges were empty at the time of the incident, and it is thought the fire began in the roof of one of the buildings.
Yesterday, the burnt-out roofs and bits of charred carpet, ladders, pipes and gas canisters could be seen scattered around the site of the lodges.
Gordon Shand owns the next door Invercauld Lodges.
He said: “I first worried it were my lodges, I had two folk staying at them.
“I raced back home and was fortunately it was the empty lodges rather than mine, but the flames were still really strong.”
Police and fire officers remained at the scene of the fire on Saturday, and confirmed a joint investigation would be carried out.
A police spokesman said: “There will be a joint investigation with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service and inquiries are ongoing to establish the cause of the fire.”
Mr Wood added: “There is no indication at this stage what caused the fire and we await the findings of the investigation report.
“I would like to thank the fire service and police on site on Friday for their professionalism.”
Local councillor Peter Argyle said he was sure the community would rally around to support the Woods.
He said: “I am devastated that yet another building in Ballater has suffered a fire, but relieved that no-one was inside.”
In 2015 Ballater lost both the Old Royal Station, which included a shop, restaurant and museum, as well as part of the 127-year-old Darroch Learg Hotel in Ballater.
Mr Argyle added: “The Darroch Learg Hotel fire was awful, especially as it was followed by the station fire so soon after.
“Now, fortunately, both are back up and running again.
“Ballater is a very strong community, we’ve seen that before and we will see that again now: the community will pull together.”