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Forres man charged with fire-raising as neighbours remain locked out

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A man has appeared in court accused of deliberately setting a fire at a block of flats.

Christopher Smith appeared in private at Elgin Sheriff Court yesterday, charged with wilful fire-raising.

The 51-year-old, of Forres, made no plea or declaration and he was remanded in custody.

Firefighters were called to the Royal Court building in Forres at 10.15pm on Monday, and battled for three hours to bring the flames under control.

Residents within the block were evacuated, and have been unable to get back into their homes while fire investigators and police examine the scene.

Langstane Housing, which owns the six-flat block, confirmed earlier this week that all the affected tenants had been provided with somewhere else to stay while the flats remain sealed off.

Only one couple, understood to live on the top floor, had to be provided with emergency accommodation by Moray Council while the others have taken refuge with friends and family.

Three fire crews, from Forres and Nairn, tackled the flames at the property for three hours after the alarm was raised.

A spokesman for the fire service refused to reveal whether there was any risk of the blaze spreading to the other flats, though it is understood that some neighbouring properties suffered smoke damage.

A policeman remained on guard at the block throughout yesterday.

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