A popular fish and chip shop in Moray has been reduced to a burned-out shell following a serious fire.
Fears were raised the Forres Fish Bar was on the brink of collapse when the fire at the premises was at its peak.
Fire fighters who raced to the scene were, however, able to save the building and were able to enter the takeaway yesterday afternoon to begin their investigations.
Shop staff in the next door McColl’s convenience store were evacuated due to concerns the fire may spread.
Last night, the cause of the massive blaze remained unknown while investigations continued. Fire crews confirmed nobody was inside the building at the time.
Neighbours who live near the Fleurs Place property revealed they heard a loud bang from the fish and chip shop at about 2.30pm before fire crews arrived.
One man said: “I was watching television when I heard a loud explosion from outside.
“When I got to the window I could see flames coming out of the shop windows.
“It took hold pretty quickly.”
Several people at the scene reported the shop receiving new deep fat fryers within the last week.
Other neighbours described becoming aware of the emergency on their doorstep as their gardens became “filled with smoke”.
Fire officers removed equipment resembling a deep fat fryer once they gained access to the eatery.
Chairs and charred wood were also thrown outside the takeaway to get further inside the property to establish the cause.
The popular fish and chip shop in Forres has been a mainstay in the south of the town for decades with a legacy of owners stretching back more than 50 years.
While the blaze was in progress, fire crews believed the chipper was “about to collapse” before the flames were brought under control.
A spokeswoman said: “We received the first call at 2.37pm. We had four fire appliances at the scene as well as an incident support van.
“At the height of the fire we had four breathing apparatus, three main jets and one hose reel jet in use. It stopped at 3.55pm but one fire appliance remained at the scene to continue dampening down.”