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Fire crews airlifted to island as blaze destroys bird observatory

The Fair Isle Bird Observatory and Guest House was popular with tourists and bird spotters alike.

A fire has destroyed a bird observatory on Fair Isle (Niall Carson (Niall CarsonPA)
A fire has destroyed a bird observatory on Fair Isle (Niall Carson (Niall CarsonPA)

A fire crew was taken by helicopter to a remote island after a blaze broke out at a renowned bird observatory.

Another two crews were taken to Fair Isle, located between Shetland and Orkney, by boat to help a local team tackle the blaze.

No-one was injured but the building, which offered accommodation to visitors to the island, has been destroyed.

A statement on the Fair Isle Observatory & Guesthouse website said: “A major fire has tragically destroyed the Obs.”

The fire service was alerted to a blaze in the roof space shortly before noon on Sunday.

Bird book author and photographer Hugh Harrop tweeted: “Devastating news coming through from Fair Isle, #Shetland this evening.

“The fire swamped the whole observatory building which has now collapsed.

“Thankfully nobody has been hurt and praise to all the islanders and emergency services personnel for their efforts. A sad, sad day.”

Roy Dennis, of the Roy Dennis Wildlife Foundation, tweeted: “Absolutely tragic news – our famous Fair Isle Bird Observatory has been lost to fire.

“Thank goodness no loss of life but heartfelt sympathy to David, Susannah and family and the islanders.

“We will rebuild. We have lost much and will lose a year. Close to my heart – very very sad.”

A Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) spokesman said: “Operations Control mobilised crews from Fair Isle and Shetland, with the crew from Lerwick transported via the Maritime Coastguard Agency’s Search and Rescue helicopter.

“Further resources were later mobilised to help tackle the fire, with two crews transported from Shetland to Fair Isle with the assistance of the RNLI.

“SFRS crews continue to tackle this significant fire, and will remain on scene overnight and into Monday.”

Press Association

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