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Waterfront flats in Nairn at ‘risk of collapse’ after devastating fire

Highland Council and NHS Highland are supporting the residents affected by the blaze.

Flats have been evacuated in Nairn following a devastating fire that has ripped through the roof.

Flames were reported coming from the building on Harbour Street shortly after 1pm.

Fire fighters tackled the blaze for more than 12 hours. leaving at 2.05am on Saturday.

Highland Council has said it is assessing the situation – but it is down to homeowners to organise repairs.

In a statement a spokeswoman for the authority said: “Following a fire in Nairn, the site has been made secure.

“While it is the building owner’s responsibility to ensure it is permanently made safe, the council will assess whether additional measures are required to enable vehicle access to the harbour.”

Residents were evacuated overnight from the block with a neighbouring building also cleared due to safety concerns.

Pictures on social media show fire totally engulfing a room on the second floor in the building with flames coming through the roof.

Stopped for lunch at Nairn. House fire in full blaze over the river from the car park

Posted by Fred Coutts on Friday, 9 June 2023

Windows in the building have been smashed during the incident, which reportedly started in a top floor flat shared by a woman and her daughter.

Nairn and Cawdor councillor Paul Oldham shared an update on the incident on his blog following a briefing from council staff.

He said fire crews had assessed the building is “at risk of collapse” with a structural engineer due to visit the site.

Meanwhile, eight flats have been made “uninhabitable” with NHS Highland and Highland Council helping impacted residents.

Police have confirmed everyone has been accounted for.

Harbour Street residents devastated

Stuart Murray, who lived on the first floor of the block that caught fire was home at the time and recalled seeing smoke before quickly leaving the building as the fire service arrived.

He said: “I am really shocked and exasperated at what happened and not really sure what to do next”

Mr Murray was living on his own in the flat and was friendly with his neighbours.

Fire crews in conversation in front of the Harbour Street building.
Specialist units were called to the Harbour Street fire in Nairn. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

He added: “I had been renting the flat for about seven years and then bought it just last month.

“I’ve not heard anything about how bad the damage is or when I could get back in.”

Mr Murray has now made plans to stay with friends following the fire.

Neighbour Billy Hargreaves saw smoke at around 1pm went to call the fire service before he heard sirens close by.

Dark grey smoke coming from the Harbour Street building during the peak of the incident.
Thick smoke came from the building during the fire. Image: Billy Hargreaves

“I could see smoke coming out the air vents and because of the wind it was billowing everywhere.

“It’s terrible for the people who have lost their livelihoods because of it.”

“There were flames right over the entire roof and it collapsed really quickly.”

The upper floors of the building have been almost completely destroyed. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

Gary Robison, who was on a day out to Nairn from Grantown said: “Everything was fine until about 1pm when I had been in town for an eye appointment and some lunch and we could smell smoke all the way back into town.

“We decided to head back down to where we parked the car near the Sun Dancer and you could see billowing smoke coming off the flats.”

“You really feel for the people in the flats it can’t be an easy thing to go through.”

Local councillor Laurie Fraser, who was at the scene said the block of flats was “fairly new” having only been built in last 30 years.

The inside of the building is now exposed to the elements. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson

“It’s quite horrific, watching it go up in flames, it burned through in a matter of minutes, it was fast.

“It’s one of the worst I’ve seen, you rarely seen them around here,” Mr Fraser said, while also praising the valiant efforts of the fire crews who were there within minutes.

Tragic memories for Nairn street

Harbour Street was scene to a tragic fire in 1998 where four children, aged between three months and 10 years, from the same family died.

Fire crews at the scene say it is too soon to establish what caused the latest emergency. Personnel will continue to dampen down the building into the evening.

It is understood the police cordon will remain there overnight until the building can be secured.

The block of flats overlooks the town’s picturesque harbour, next to the local sailing club and near the Sun Dancer bar and restaurant, which has been closed tonight due to the incident.

Fire crews worked from a crane to hose down the building while crowds of onlookers gather on the quayside.

Locals reported a strong sea breeze blowing water and smoke from the building as personnel worked at the scene.

Emergency services set up a command support unit and incident support unit at the scene.

The fire service confirmed six units were sent to the scene, two from Inverness, two from Nairn, one from Forres and one from Elgin.

A spokeswoman for the service said they had left at 2.05am this morning.

The ambulance service has confirmed nobody has needed to be taken to hospital as a result of the fire.

Police urged locals to stay away from the area while the incident was ongoing.

In pictures: Harbour Street fire in Nairn

Fire crews worked at the scene for several hours. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson
Fire crew worked hard to put out the flames. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson
Assessments are being done to ensure the Harbour Street building in Nairn is safe after the fire. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson
Firefighter at the scene. Image: Sandy McCook/DC Thomson 
What’s left of the Harbour Street building in Nairn. Image: Ross Hempseed/DC Thomson
View from harbour looking at building that has been affected by fire and surrounding streets.
The Harbour Street building affected by the fire overlooks the harbour in Nairn. Image: Ross Hempseed/DC Thomson
Line-up of fire engines and ambulance on neighbouring street to Harbour Street.
There is a significant emergency services presence in Nairn following the Harbour Street fire. Image: Ross Hempseed/DC Thomson