8th April 2020
Established 1872. Online since 1996.

Fair Isle Bird Observatory destroyed by fire

The well-loved Fair Isle Bird Observatory was destroyed by fire on Sunday.

Firefighters worked through the day on Sunday to bring the blaze under control. As of 9am Monday morning crews were still in the isle “dampening down”, fire control said.

Reports of the fire were received at around midday. Fair Isle’s local crew were joined by firefighters from the Lerwick station who were flown out by helicopter.

A second crew from Lerwick and a crew from Sandwick also joined later in the day.

By Sunday evening the fire had spread throughout the building. A statement on the Fair Isle Bird Observatory website stated that all staff were “OK”.

Shetland MSP Tavish Scott spoke of the “colossal blow” of losing the popular tourist attraction.

He said: “The loss of the bird “ops” in Fair Isle is a colossal blow to the isle and to the many visitors both from Shetland and across the world, who would have plans to visit in the coming months.

“First and foremost it is a great relief that no one was hurt in the fire. The local volunteer fire crew and the teams flown in by helicopter from the Shetland mainland deserve great credit for tackling such a large fire.

“My personal thoughts are with the brilliant staff who run the observatory and have lost all their posessions in today’s fire. Fair Isle has my full support in these difficult days as the impact on the entire island of losing the observatory becomes all too clear.”

President of the observatory, Roy Dennis, 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.”

• More in Friday’s Shetland Times

About Keegan Murray

Reporter for The Shetland Times. Interested in politics, literature and music. Born and bred Shetlander. Long suffering Newcastle United supporter.

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