A major investigation involving police and fire chiefs was due to get under way today after a blaze ripped through a former care home.
More than 70 firefighters tackled the blaze for more than 10 hours at the old Blythewood Care Home on School Road in Port Elphinstone, Inverurie, only leaving the scene in the early hours of this morning.
Smoke could be seen throughout the town with members of the public warned by police to avoid the area and the main road through the community closed for several hours.
Residents gathered in the street to watch the blaze in the building which has lain empty for more than two years.
The building was converted from a private residence into a care home in the early 1950s. However, it has been empty for more than two years after residents moved into the new £10 million Bennachie View facility.
Plans were lodged last year to turn the former 37-bedroom care home into affordable housing flats.
Speaking from the scene yesterday, Graeme Hay, Scottish Fire and Rescue Service group manager, said they had 15 appliances on the scene along with one height vehicle.
He added: “The cause of the fire is unknown. A joint investigation will be carried out between police and fire.”
Fire crews were called at 1.40pm yesterday. The blaze was put out just after midnight, with the last fire engine leaving the scene just after 1am today.
A Police Scotland spokesman said: “Police were involved with the fire in Port Elphinstone as the building was unsafe following the incident.
“There will now be a joint investigation between police and fire services. Police left the scene at 1.50am today.”