An Inverness block of flats was evacuated for more than an hour tonight after a cooking fire blazed out of control on the ground floor of the building.
Five fire engines sped to Chattan Avenue shortly after 8pm amid fears that the flames could spread to other parts of the building.
One neighbour said she thought local children had been misbehaving when she first heard the alarm.
But she realised it was a genuine emergency when she saw smoke pouring from the front of the block.
The woman added: “I saw people running out of the building and coughing, and smoke started coming from the bottom floor and the side of that flat.
“I heard the woman was cooking, and some papers on the hob ended up catching fire.
“People were left outside for more than an hour, I had to take one of the neighbour’s kids in because she had no shoes on and was feeling the cold.
“There are a lot of children in that block, so we are all really just thankful that firefighters got there in time to stop it spreading.”
Fire crews managed to contain the incident in short order, reporting back to their main office that it was under control at 8.45pm.
A spokesman for the fire service said: “We were called to a dwelling at 8.10pm and sent two appliances from Inverness, two from Nairn and a height vehicle.
“The team used four sets of breathing apparatus and one hose reel jet to put the fire out.”
A police spokesman added: “We believe that papers were left on the hob, causing the smoke.”