Safety concerns have been raised amid claims fire crews sent to tackle a bungalow blaze struggled to find a working hydrant.
Nairn postman Kenneth McAlpine watched in horror as firefighters tried four hydrants while trying to extinguish the flames engulfing the semi-detached property in the town’s Woodside Crescent.
The fire broke out at about noon on Friday, and the teams spent about five hours tackling the blaze.
The roof collapsed, meaning that firefighters could not enter the building, which is now boarded up and cordoned off.
But neighbour Kenneth McAlpine claims the team seemed to have been hampered in their efforts as they struggled to find a working hydrant.
The 60-year-old said: “There were four fire brigade units. They tried one hydrant just outside the house, it wouldn’t work.
“They tried one at the top of Birch Road, that wouldn’t work. They tried the end of Woodside Crescent, that wouldn’t work. So they had to try a fourth one, on Wyvis Road.
“It was really bad, a major health hazard. On a Thursday night they used to go round checking hydrants as part of their training, at Achareidh, Tradespark, Lochdhu, but they stopped it.”
He said he believes they are only checked once a year.
Yesterday the incident commander, Ross Nixon said that he did not know of any problems with the hydrants during the incident.
But he added: “Hydrants are routinely checked by our staff.
“They are checked and maintained as part of a routine maintenance programme.”
Mr Nixon added: “It was a significant incident and we had to make sure that the fire did not spread to the next door house.
“The roof also collapsed, causing significant damage to the house.”