20th April 2019
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Böd Ayre couple devastated as plant goes up in flames

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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.


About Ryan Taylor

Ryan Taylor has worked as a reporter since 1995, and has been at The Shetland Times since 2007, covering a wide variety of news topics. Before then he reported for other newspapers in the Highlands, where he was raised, and in Fife, where he began his career with DC Thomson. He also has experience in broadcast journalism with Grampian Television. He has lived in Shetland since 2002, where he harbours an unhealthy interest in old cars and motorbikes.

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  1. Robert Lowes

    Terrible news. Margaret & Michael, sorry to hear what’s happened.

  2. Margaret Goodlad

    I’m so sorry to hear this devastating news.

  3. Roger P Randle

    Devastating news – my heart goes out to you both. You must start up again and continue to grow the innovative and exciting local business producing unique products.

  4. Vaila Boston

    So sorry to hear this terrible news. Thoughts and prayers are with you.

  5. Mike & Mave Lennox

    Mave & I are absolutely devastated to read about the fire – just can’t believe it – after all you both have done to get the business successful.

    Really, really sorry to read this.

  6. Bill and I are so sorry to hear about your loss. This isn’t fair! You put together such an interesting and innovative business. We wish you God’s speed for returning to production. Keeping both of you in our prayers.


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