A heavily-pregnant mother and her three young children were forced to flee their home as it was engulfed by fire in the middle of the night.
Lesley-Anne Ross, her boyfriend William Williamson and her children managed to escape from the burning building just before its windows blew out.
The 30-year-old’s two-storey terraced property was almost completely destroyed by the blaze.
A family who live in the same street at Invergordon in Easter Ross took them in and gave them shelter.
Mark and Mandy Sutherland were woken up by a smoke alarm and looked across the road to see flames in their neighbour’s living room.
Mr Sutherland, 47, who was first on the scene, said: “When I went out and into the car park they were running out the door and screaming.
“More neighbours came out into the street and we started evacuating the houses next door. Everyone was trying to call the emergency services.
“Most of the houses here have gas and we were all scared that the gas was about to go.
“The house went up in flames very quickly and the windows blew out as my wife was taking the family into our house.
“There was a huge roar as soon as the air hit it and that’s when everyone thought the gas was going to go.
“I moved my daughter’s car from in front of the house and other neighbours were doing the same.
“The men were clearing the street and when I looked back all the mothers and kids were coming round to our house with clothes for the kids.”
Mrs Sutherland, 46, who ushered the family into her home at Inverbreakie Drive, said: “It was a blazing inferno. I was distraught and upset by what I was seeing.
“The mum just kept shouting for her kids and at that point I did not know how many kids she had and if they were all out of the house. I could not see very well in the dark.”
Two fire brigade appliances from Invergordon and one from Tain went to the scene.
Two main jets and two hose reel jets were used and six firefighters wore breathing apparatus. A thermal imaging camera was also used.
The fire, which was reported shortly after 2am on Boxing Day, was brought under control by 3.55am and was fully extinguished by 6.15am.
Yesterday, all of the windows and doors at the blaze-ravaged house were boarded-up and the remains of a sofa could be seen lying in the front garden. There was police tape around the scene
It is understood Ms Ross and her family have been given temporary accommodation.
A group has been set up on a social networking site by residents in the Inverbreakie area of the Easter Ross town for people to donate items to the family.
Yesterday, Ms Ross’s best friend, Cheryl Duncan, said: “The community effort was excellent. A lot of these neighbours don’t even know her, but when something like this happens everyone comes together.”
Meanwhile, firefighters were also called to a house blaze at Kilmuir on Skye around 11.30am on Boxing Day.
Three appliances from Uig, Portree and Staffin went to the scene but the property was completely destroyed.
And the kitchen of a home in the Duthil area of Carrbridge was damaged by fire on Christmas Day. Crews from Grantown and Aviemore were called to the evening incident.
Yesterday, fire crews in Inverness were called to a single-storey house fire in the city’s Fairfield Road, around 11.15am.
Some fire damage was caused to the kitchen and there was some smoke damage to the rest of the house.