A Moray resident has described hearing an “explosion” as a fire ripped through a mill in Elgin.
Crews raced to the property on Oldmills Road in the early hours of Monday after a fire broke out shortly after 3am.
Firefighters battled for more than three hours to extinguish the flames which had engulfed around 50% of the building at its peak.
Police have opened an investigation in conjunction with the fire service into the incident.
A cordon remained in place around the mill for most of the day as crews continued to dampen down hot spots.
Pictures taken at the scene show the smouldering remains of the mill. It is believed the mills have been on the historic site since the 13th century, although the current buildings date from the 1790s.
One local resident has described how they heard an “explosion” in the early hours of the morning.
‘It’s part of the history of the town’
They said: “It’s such a shame this has happened.
“I’ve seen photos and it used to be so beautiful.
“It’s a shame I never saw it like that. It’s part of the history of the town.
“It’s been in a bad state over the years with so much rubbish there.
“I don’t know what happened, but I definitely heard an explosion in the early hours.”
Mill owner Patrick Thirkell believes the fire was deliberate, saying there had been “repeated attacks” on the buildings in recent years.
He said the most recent incident occurred despite security fencing being installed to protect the site.
Mr Thirkell suggested that if repairs were made the mill would only be targeted again.
Teams from Elgin attended alongside teams from Lossiemouth, Fochabers, Inverness and Buckie.
A high aerial appliance was drafted in from Inverness alongside the water carrier from Buckie.
Firefighters also deployed the use of one main jet and one light portable pump as they worked to extinguish the blaze.
Police have confirmed they are assisting the fire service with inquiries.
A spokesman said: “We received a report of a fire at a building on Oldmills Road in Elgin at around 3.55am.”
“There were no reports of any injuries. Inquiries into the cause of the fire are ongoing in conjunction with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.
“Anyone with any information is asked to contact 101 quoting incident number 0307 of 7 February, 2022.”