A community has rallied around to support the owners of an Argyll inn destroyed in an early morning blaze.
Four fire crews, including a height appliance, were called to the Taynuilt Inn, near Oban, at about 5am today.
Work has now started on demolishing the dangerous remnants of the caved-in roof to make it safer for fire investigators.
A fire spokesman told us a chef, who stays on site, raised the alarm.
Guests were evacuated safely and nobody has been injured, he added.
Local postmistress Lorna Maclennan was among those who raced to help the shocked guests who fled in their pyjamas – offering them clothes and duvets from her own home.
She said: “At 5am we knew something was up and I happened to look out and one of the firemen told me that the hotel had gone up on fire. I shoved on my clothes and got out to see what I could do to help, getting folk in out of the cold.
“One of the poor ladies was the same clothes size as me so I was just giving what I had that fitted her.
“One of my colleagues, my assistant, is now driving one of the couples back home to Glasgow. It’s a small community, we rally round and help wherever we can.”
Thousands of pounds has already been raised for the owners of the hotel, Lesley and Jordan Foster, who were working hard to bounce back from lockdown.
The community has also been offering soup, sandwiches and other refreshments to the emergency crews who remain on site.
Earlier this afternoon, smoke could be seen still smouldering from the 16th century building, with a height appliance used to tackle it from above.
‘They’ve been left with nothing’
Already, a Go Fund Me page has raised more than £3,000 for the Fosters.
Christine Fox, who set up the fundraiser, said the pair had been left with “nothing but the clothes on their backs”.
She told us: “The people of Taynuilt have really come together for Lesley and Jordan and are also providing support for the police and firefighters.
“It’s a wonderful community to be part of because everyone just wants to help.”
Ms Maclennan added that she hopes to use the Post Office as a drop-off point for anyone able to donate items for the pair.
“Folk have handed money in here as well,” she said.
“It’s doing what you can to help.
“It’s a wee community and everyone just gets together and helps, you do what you can do. I’m just glad that everyone is OK – everything can be replaced.
“I feel for Jordan and Lesley because they’ve had a hard time and they’re just getting back on their feet, it (the hotel) was an asset to the village as well. It’s just heartbreaking for them. Everybody is rallying round to help them, it’s another icon missing from the village.”
‘Devastating’ for the whole village
The A85 Oban to Perth road, which runs through Taynuilt, remains shut and diversions are in place.
David Pratt, who lives opposite in the inn, said he was woken by the noise at about 5.30am.
He said: “It started over in the far corner of the hotel and gradually spread along the roof.
“There were great plumes of fire, it was spectacular. Right at the beginning when I first looked out I saw people coming across the road, coming out of the hotel.”
The A85 is CLOSED both ways at Taynuilt Hotel due to a building fire and will remain closed for some time.
Find diversion route below⬇️
— Traffic Scotland (@trafficscotland) September 21, 2021
Councillor Elaine Robertson: “This is absolutely devastating news for the owners and the village of Taynuilt.
“The inn is very important to the village, it is devastating to hear and my deepest sympathies go out to the owners.”