A teenager has described the moment his friends forced their way into a burning building to check if anyone was trapped inside.
Firefighters were called the blaze on Oldtown Road, in the Hilton area of Inverness, late on Saturday night.
Police and fire officers are now investigating the deliberate fire, which has caused extensive damage to the ground floor flat.
Nobody was inside when the fire broke out at about 10pm, but yesterday neighbour Jacub Logocki described how his friends raced to help.
The 17-year-old said: “I had a couple of people round and we started to smell smoke. We came out onto the balcony and the whole house was up in smoke. We went down the stairs and the whole letterbox was on fire and the inside of the house, on the other side of door, was in flames. We came and got some water and put it out before the fireman got here.
“It was a shock.
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“Everyone started panicking and coming out.”
Five of his friends entered the building, and came out black as a result of the thick smoke pouring out the building.
He added: “My friends smashed the glass to gain entry to the house and they went in to see if there was anyone or any pets in the house.”
A fellow neighbour added: “All I heard was banging. I thought it was kids doing their usual, drinking. I came down the stairs and thought what is going on.
“It was a real shock.”
Police are appealing for anyone with information about the incident to come forward, and warned the culprits their actions could have had serious consequences.
Detective Constable David Rennie said: “The consequences of this fire could have been far more serious if not for the actions of members of the public who reported it to the emergency services.
“Our inquiries are ongoing and any information, even if it was something you didn’t think was notable at the time, could be useful in helping us establish the full circumstances.”
Anyone with information should call 101 or Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.