Police are investigating a “devastating” fire at a theatre group which wiped out its entire collection of props and costumes.
Officers said the cause of the blaze at the Dingwall Players’ clubhouse was “unexplained” with an investigation ongoing to establish if it was started deliberately.
Last night, group chairman Allan Thomson said the show would go on and that the group would “rise like a Phoenix” from the ashes.
However, nothing could be salvaged from the blackened remains of the Tulloch Street building, which remained sealed off yesterday.
The destroyed costumes include Edwardian tailcoats, Victorian formal wear, a range of top hats and World War I military uniforms.
Mr Thomson who lives near the clubrooms, was alerted to the fierce fire on Saturday night after the outbreak was discovered about 9.30pm.
He said: “Obviously the fire brigade wouldn’t let us anywhere near it. It was well alight at the time and when I went back on Sunday morning it was clear that everything had been destroyed.
“The police are looking into it and basically they have said it is unexplained.
“Obviously there are worse things happening in the world but for the Dingwall Players it’s pretty devastating.
“We’re going to keep going and find somewhere new but we’ll basically be starting again.”
Committee member Tina Fewster added: “Literally everything we owned was in there, it has all been destroyed.
“It was mostly all donated by the people of Dingwall so that’s especially disappointing.
“Most of it is completely irreplaceable. It’s a very sad situation.”
The clubhouse was part of a complex of building formerly used as Dingwall Academy.
The Dingwall Players have used the wood and corrugated metal building, which dates from the 19th century, for around 40 years. It was previously used as the school’s gym.
The group is well known for its popular annual pantomime and had most recently performed at the Scottish Community Theatre Association finals in Orkney at the end of last month.
By good fortune, it is believed that the club’s archive of photographs and records were with a club member the night of the blaze and have escaped the fire.
The group were due to hold its annual general meeting last night, with the club’s future now top of the agenda.
A police spokesman said: ” The fire is being treated as unexplained.
“Anyone who can assist with our inquiries, or may have seen anyone in the area at the time of the incident, is urged to come forward.
“Anyone with information is asked to contact Police Scotland on 101.”