Page last updated at 11:19 GMT, Friday, 6 February 2009

'Raging inferno' at historic home

Leslie House in Glenrothes (Pic: Mike Brailsford)
The blaze caused "extensive damage" to Leslie House

An investigation has been launched into the cause of a "raging inferno" at a 16th Century property in Fife.

Leslie House, which was being renovated to create 17 luxury homes, was extensively damaged by the blaze, which started at 1900 GMT on Thursday.

More than 60 firefighters tackled the blaze using 10 fire engines, including aerial ladder platforms.

Firefighters spent the night tackling the blaze and were still at the scene on Friday, dampening down the flames.

High Street and parts of Western Avenue in the village of Leslie, near Glenrothes, have now reopened after being closed overnight between Thursday and Friday to prevent the public from accessing the area.

Two floors of the five-storey building were well alight at the height of the blaze.

It is understood that Edinburgh-based company Sundial Properties had bought the property, once owned by the Duke of Rothes, for 1.5m.

Sundial Properties had been working closely with Historic Scotland on the 3m renovation project.

Nobody was in the house, which was last used as a care home, at the time of the blaze.

Leslie House in Glenrothes

A Fife Constabulary spokesman said: "This was an enormous blaze, the roof was a raging inferno.

"We had to close nearby roads as members of the public were stopping and parking their cars to come and have a look and getting in the way of the firefighters."

Fiona Grant, chairwoman of Fife Council's Glenrothes area committee, said: "This is devastating news for the local community.

"Whilst opinion had been divided over the recent development proposals, everyone was pleased that investment would give Leslie House a new lease of life.

"Now all we can hope is that something can be salvaged from this beautiful and historic building.

"On behalf of the local members I'd like to thank the emergency services for all their efforts throughout the night, and also the council's own emergency planning and catering teams who were called in to support their work."

William Gray Muir, Sundial Properties managing director, said: "A fire was discovered by the night watchman at Leslie House by Glenrothes in the early evening on Thursday.

"We are greatly relieved that no-one was hurt but devastated that so much damage has been done to such an important building.

"We would like to express our admiration for the fire service who managed to control the fire quickly and so save as much of the structure as possible."

He said he would not be able to judge the full structural damage until a survey had been completed. He hoped a full restoration would be possible.

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