Residents in shock after blaze rips through local hotel

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The Ballater community is in shock this week after a “devastating” blaze ripped through popular local hotel, the Darroch Learg.

A spokesperson for Scottish Fire and Rescue Service (SFRS) confirmed that over 50 firefighters and eight appliances attended the fire, which broke out on the second floor of the historic hotel at around 3.50pm on Friday February 20.

Residents watched in shock as flames leapt from the roof of the 127-year-old building.

Nobody was hurt in the blaze, although it is thought that about one third of the Royal Deeside hotel was destroyed in the fire.

A spokesperson for SFRS said: “The fire in the roof space of the three floor hotel was well-developed when firefighters arrived.”

Built in 1888, as a country retreat for the Rev Dr Alexander Ogilvie, headmaster of Robert Gordon’s School, the Darroch Learg Hotel became one of the most prestigious hotels in the area, close to the hearts of many members of the Ballater community.

Fire crews spent more than six hours tackling the blaze at the venue, which is run by Nigel and Fiona Franks, having been in the Franks’ family for over 40 years.

After crews had dampened the area down and checked for remaining hot spots the last appliance eventually left the scene at around 7.30am on Saturday morning.

The Fire Investigation team were able to gain access to the property at 10.19am on the Saturday morning and remained there for much of the day. The Fire Investigation Unit has reported its findings to Police Scotland and as part of the joint investigation a report will be submitted to the Procurator Fiscal.

Cllr Geva Blackett said: “This devastating fire wiped out a lifetime of hard work by Nigel and Fiona Franks, a lifetime that saw the hotel become an award winning, world class destination and a huge contributor to Ballater’s economy. My heart goes out to everyone affected.”

SFRS Station Manager Graeme Goonan. who was at the scene, said: “Due to the location of the hotel and the terrain around it the crews did an excellent job. We had to fight the fire in a number of sectors, but gaining access to those sectors due to the landscape was not an easy task.”