The couple behind an innovative Shetland organic products company have been left devastated after their seaweed processing plant was destroyed by fire.
A blaze ripped through Böd Ayre owners Margaret and Michael Blance’s factory at Hamnavoe in Lunnanness, Vidlin, in the early hours of yesterday morning.
Fire appliances from Brae, Bixter and Scalloway attended after receiving calls at 2.24am. The retained crews used three jets and 16 sets of breathing apparatus to help put out the blaze, but the building, measuring 20 metres by 12, was “totally destroyed”.
The fire was under control within two hours and 20 minutes, but crews remained at the scene until after 6am.
Mrs Blance said the fire was “devastating”.
She said Mr Blance had spotted smoke coming from the factory, which lies 400 yards from their home. He had gone out to check the couple’s turbine in the strong winds that were blowing at the time.
Mrs Blance said she had been left “numb” by the experience, but the couple were determined to get the business going again.
“We’re waiting for the fire officer coming this afternoon and CID to help determine the cause. But the police officer has said there were no suspicious circumstances.
“The wind had picked up. My husband went out to check the turbine was okay, but there was smoke coming from the factory.
“I have not gone there but Michael says everything has been destroyed. We’re just numb at the moment, not knowing where to go or what to do.
“We’ll have to get temporary premises to start production again. We’ve put so much of our lives into it. We don’t want to let it go. We’ve been running it for nearly 10 years. It’s so vexing to see this.”
Mrs Blance said she also wanted to thank the efforts of the fire crews, who arrived in quick time.
“We must thank the fire brigade for what they did. Although it seemed an eternity before they came, it really wasn’t. We really do appreciate what they did.”
Last week Böd Ayre was shortlisted for awards in both the environment and healthier categories of the Highlands & Islands Food & Drink Awards.