A woman has died following a fire at her home in Sutherland.
The victim was named locally as 74-year-old Sheena Matheson, who was from a well known crofting family.
Neighbours paid tribute last night, describing her as “honest, hard-working, quiet and generous”.
Mrs Matheson was found dead in her bedroom at the bungalow in the Rearquhar area near Dornoch after firefighters battled to bring the blaze under control yesterday morning.
She is understood to have lived alone in the house since the death of her husband David, known as Jackie, in April 2013.
Police broke the news of the tragedy to her surviving relatives yesterday.
The family are well-known local crofters, described as “pillars of the community” last night.
Councillor Jim McGillivray, East Sutherland and Edderton, is tenant of a nearby croft and a lifelong friend.
He said: “It’s an absolute tragedy. It’s always a tragedy when something like that happens but this has hit very close to home.
“She was a very well respected local woman who will be sorely missed.
“She was honest, hard-working, quiet and generous.
“They are a lovely family, well-known, and my heart goes out to them.”
Firefighters from Dornoch and Tain managed to confine the blaze to the bedroom of the house before Mrs Matheson’s body was found.
The room suffered severe smoke damage.
The cause of the fire is currently unknown and a major investigation was launched yesterday afternoon.
Fire investigators and a police forensics team were at the house yesterday afternoon carrying out an examination of the surrounding area.
A spokesman for the fire and rescue service said: “A call was made to control at 12.42am reporting a fire at a single storey house in the Rearquhar area.
“Appliances from Dornoch and Tain attended the fire. Crews in breathing apparatus used one hose reel jet and one main jet and carried out a search of the property.
“Sadly during the search firefighters found one elderly female fatality inside.
“A joint investigation between SFRS and Police Scotland into the cause of the fire will take place in due course.
“The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service would like to take this opportunity to remind members of the public about its free home fire safety visit service.”
A police spokesman added: “There do not appear to be any suspicious circumstances but a joint fire and police investigation will be carried out.”
The Rearquhar incident is the latest in a string of serious house fires in recent months across the north.
A 68-year-old woman died in a blaze at her home in Lochend, Inverness-shire in January.
A 9-year-old woman lost her life in a fire at her home at Inverauld House at Rosehall in February.
And two days later a 38-year-old man was found dead at his home in Strathspey Avenue in Aviemore.