An old laptop could be to blame for a massive inferno which ripped through a north primary school.
Children and staff had to flee Park Primary in Invergordon yesterday morning when a devastating blaze destroyed much of the building.
The school was evacuated at around 10am with the newest part of the Ross-shire building particularly affected.
Huge flames and plumes of thick, black smoke were seen for miles around as more than 50 firefighters attended the scene from Invergordon, Tain, Beauly, Dingwall and Inverness.
Rab Middlemiss, senior fire officer for the Highlands, said crews were met with “very challenging” conditions.
He said: “The main primary school building itself has been almost completely destroyed by fire internally.
“The actions of the fire crews have protected some of the infrastructure but clearly there is a lot of work to be done here.”
He added: “We have got to think about the education of our young people, which we all value. Therefore, it is particularly saddening to see this level of fire.”
Highland Council chiefs yesterday ordered all teaching staff across the region not to use older models of the laptop believed to be at the centre of the devastating blaze.
A spokesman said: “We are awaiting the outcome of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service’s investigation into the fire, but we understand it might have originated from an old lap-top.
“As a precaution we are asking all staff using these older models not to use them until further notice.”
In the meantime, calls have been made on the local authority and the Scottish Government to act quickly to replace the stricken building.
The 176 primary and 32 nursery children at Park Primary will be relocated, with the arrangements being put in place before the end of the week.
Invergordon Academy, which has a capacity of 550 but only has a school roll of 343 students at present, is expected to house many of the displaced pupils.
A special parents evening event will be held this evening at Invergordon Academy to discuss the plans going forward.
Highland Council leader, Margaret Davidson, said: “We would like to praise the quick, safe and efficient way staff were able to evacuate the building once the fire was discovered.
“All our schools have regular fire drills in preparation for this type of incident. We are relieved that everyone is accounted for and is safe.
“We appreciate that this has been a traumatic event for the children and staff and we will be putting the necessary support in place for anyone who needs it.”
Local councillor Maxine Smith, the Highland SNP group leader, said: “It was a devastating sight to see. It is so very sad.
“Park has taught Invergordon children for decades. The scene is totally horrific.”
She added: “Highland Council and the Scottish Government must now make it their number one education commitment to replace the school.
“I will be pushing the council and the government to bring forward plans for a new school in the town as soon as possible.”
MSP Gail Ross added: “I have been in touch with the education secretary John Swinney and Nicola Sturgeon and I have been assured that they will begin immediate discussions with Highland Council on the way forward in both the short term and long term.”
A Scottish Government spokesman said: “While this is a matter for Highland Council, the safety of pupils and staff is our primary concern and thankfully all children and staff are safe and accounted for.
“We are in close contact with the council and stand ready to provide whatever assistance may be required.”