A farmer and his neighbour dashed inside a burning barn to rescue machinery worth tens of thousands of pounds before it was engulfed in flames.
Alison Watson looked on terrified as her husband Martin and friend Stewart Caryle risked their lives to save tractors and quad bikes from the blaze.
She said last night: “It was an inferno. They could have died.
“All I could do was watch in horror as they drove the stuff out.”
The barn also contained hay and straw and Mrs Watson, 40, was woken up by the crackling of the fire around 5.50am yesterday.
She alerted her husband and they went outside and realised the blaze was in danger of spreading to their home at Drynie Farm at heights of Docharty, near Dingwall, and two nearby cottages.
Mr Caryle, who stays in one of the cottages with his girlfriend Sharon Thomson and their young child, came running to raise the alarm but by then the couple had already dialled 999.
Mr Watson, 49, and Mr Caryle went into the barn and managed to drive clear two John Deere tractors, a JCB tele-handler and two Honda quad bikes as parts of the machinery began to melt.
Mrs Watson said: “The fire could have been a lot worse but for their actions and the direction of the wind.
“It was blowing from the west luckily and taking the flames away from the homes.
“Mr Carlyle came running to let us know the barn was on fire, but I had already heard the noise of the flames and had dialled 999.
“The tractors are all melted at the rear, including the mudguards, and parts of the cab.”
Mrs Watson said it was fortunate the incident did not happen later in the year – when they would have had livestock in the building.
Police and the fire service are conducting an investigation into the cause of the blaze.
Fire units from Dingwall, Inverness and Beauly battled the flames for more than eight hours using four main jets and a hosereel jet.
Two firefighters also used breathing apparatus because of the density of the smoke.
Police urged residents in Dingwall, about half a mile away, to shut their windows as a precaution.
The first fire unit was on scene at 6.16am and crews left around 2.50pm.
At one stage farm machinery was used to pull smouldering hay from the building so that firefighters could get water on the burning fodder.
About 100 large round bales were destroyed.
A fire brigade spokeswomen in Inverness said the 125ft by 100ft barn was 50% damaged by heat, flames and smoke and that several items of farm machinery were damaged.
Police confirmed a number of hay and straw bales and mechanical equipment was damaged as a result of the fire.
No one was injured.
The cause of the blaze has yet to be established unknown and a joint police and fire investigation will be launched.
Police have appealed to anyone with information to contact them on 101, or Crimestoppers on 0800 555111