A north-east grandmother was treated for the effects of smoke after fearlessly running into a burning steading to rescue her family pets.
Tina Lavin burst into the former stable to save her geese and a chicken after flames engulfed the building.
Ms Lavin, who sometimes required a disability scooter to get around, then kicked in the door of the smoke-filled pen containing her pet owl to get her to safety.
An electrical fire broke out in the outbuilding, in the grounds of her home in Coachford, north of Huntly, at around 1pm on Christmas Day.
The widow managed to ensure all animals were removed safely. Last night she recalled the terrifying ordeal.
She told the P&J: “I had never seen smoke like it – it was so thick I was convinced someone had closed the door on me in the shed.
“Blinded, I was screaming ‘I’m in here!’ and then the smoke got me in my throat and I fell over.
“Down on the concrete floor, I saw the way out.
“The heat was absolutely immense.”
Treated for smoke inhalation, she escaped relatively unscathed – except for a bite from Ugg, the Eurasian eagle-owl, as she carried her to safety.
A family pet for around 20 years, all has already been forgiven and the bird – around 2ft tall with a wingspan of around 7ft – is recovering at a friend’s house.
“She was petrified with all the smoke, though her building was not on fire,” Ms Lavin said.
“It is normally her feet we need to be wary of, not the beak.
“She only bit me because of the stress and as I tried to fold in her wings as she flapped around.”
More than 20 firefighters were required to get the blaze under control, with pockets of fire reigniting after it all looked extinguished.
Four fire engines were called to the property, next to the A96 Huntly to Keith road, at around 1.15pm – just as the crews were to sit down to a festive feast at the station.
A water carrier was called as reinforcements later got stuck in a snowy ditch on the small road to the house, and remained there until a gritter came to help.
All 23 crew sent to help had left the scene by 3.40pm.
Police warned drivers using the main road connecting Aberdeen and Inverness to be wary of the thick plumes billowing out of the stable on Christmas Day.
A spokesman posted on Facebook: “Motorists are being advised of smoke affecting the A96 near Coachford, Huntly, following a fire in a nearby outbuilding.
“Fire are in attendance and dealing.”
Ms Lavin has now been left to count the cost of the blaze, which originated in part of the steading where she was storing her freezer and kept a large pile of fire wood.
Having recently sold the property, many of her possessions had been piled inside ahead of a move.
Members of Huntly’s Jehovah’s Witness congregation arrived on Boxing Day to help make the building safe by removing the roof.
There had been fears a strong wind would lift it from its precarious perch on the burned out remains of the building.