AN INVESTIGATION was under way today after a major fire hit an Aberdeen charity site.
Police and fire chiefs said the blaze at the city’s Hazledene Road was being treated as suspicious.
The fire badly damaged two derelict cottages next to the main building of Somebody Cares.
And the charity’s boss today said if the fire had spread to the building, which was a whisker from catching alight, it would have had devastating consequences.
Brian Taylor, chief operating office of Somebody Cares said: “We’re open for business as usual.”
The blaze broke out at around 7.45pm last night, with a total of 13 firefighters battling the flames for an hour and half before getting it under control.
Flames and plumes of smoke from the former Dobbies garden centre site could be seen from around the Hazlehead area.
Three fire appliances from North Anderson Drive and Central stations were deployed to the scene alongside police.
Staff from Scottish and Southern Energy (SSE) were also called in to make sure the site was safepower-wise.
Scottish Fire and Rescue Service watch manager Dennis Chalmers said the fire was already extensive when the crews arrived and they had to use three jets to extinguish the flames.
He said: “It was a well-developed fire. On arrival the building was already well alight.
“It was a derelict gardener’s cottage with outbuildings. It is gutted – destroyed. There was pretty heavy smoke.”
Somebody Cares chief operating officer, Brian Taylor, and his daughter Sarah, the charity’s retail manager, quickly arrived at the scene.
Brian said the organisation would have been devastated had the main building gone up in flames.
A Police Scotland spokesman at the scene confirmed officers were to be back on site today.
He said: “Our inquiries will continue in joint working with the Scottish Fire and Rescue Service.”
He added that protecting the site will be a priority and said public safety would be a “big issue” at the popular dog walking spot just south of Hazlehead Park.