A 24-year-old man was killed in a “devastating” fire which tore through a north-east block of flats.
More than 30 firefighters from across Aberdeenshire spent four hours bringing the blaze under control in Newton Drive, Macduff, in the early hours of yesterday morning.
The victim, named locally as Daniel Reid, was staying in the top floor flat where the fire is understood to have broken out in the bedroom.
Mr Reid was pulled from the property by firefighters but was declared dead at the scene.
Two people were rescued from a third-floor window and other residents were forced to flee their homes as flames took hold of the property.
The strength of the fire then led the roof to collapse into the flats.
Fire service incident commander Davie Meldrum said his crews were faced with a well-developed blaze on arrival.
He said: “We got the call just after midnight. The largest window was blown out on arrival and when the crews arrived there were flames coming out of that window.”
“Crews worked really hard right throughout the night to carry out those rescues and to also containthe fire.
“The fire got into the roofspace very quickly and as you can see by the devastation to the building, the roof then collapsed into the flat where the fire started.”
Mr Meldrum said crews from Macduff, Banff, Portsoy, Aberchirder, Turriff, Aberdeen, Peterhead, Elgin and Huntly attended the fire.
The blaze was under control by 4am and crews left the scene shortly after 7am.
A joint fire and police investigation is now underway and Mr Meldrum said investigators would take evidence out “piece by piece” to establish the cause of the blaze.
Last night local man Les Berry said the death of Mr Reid had shocked the neighbourhood: “I saw the smoke and the flames from my house. It’s terrible and quite shocking.”
“And it could have a lot worse in a block of flats like that.”
The property is used for temporary accommodation by Aberdeenshire Council.
Last night, Margaret Jane Cardno, Banff and Buchan area manager visited the scene and described the blaze as a tragedy.
“Our thoughts and condolences are certainly with the affected families at this time.
“Our priority now is to support the displaced families, and support the joint police and fire investigation.”
Mr Reid’s family, of Portsoy, declined to comment last night.