A WOMAN has been left “distraught” by the loss of 18 birds in a suspected deliberate fire at her Midlothian aviary.
The woman was treated for the effects of smoke inhalation after trying to save her birds in the blaze in the early hours of yesterday.
The aviary was also destroyed by the fire in the garden of a house at Hill Place in Dalkeith, Midlothian.
It is one of a number of incidents in the Mayfield area of the town being probed by police.
In another incident, a tarpaulin was set alight adjacent to the wall of a house occupied by a family with two young children.
At the same Stone Place address, a wheelie bin was deliberately set on fire and placed against a car, causing damage to the tune of £3,000.
Police said it was a matter of luck that no people were seriously injured by the fires.
Officers have been carrying out door-to-door inquiries and checking CCTV footage.
They want to hear from anyone who was in the area between 3am and 4am on Saturday and who may have seen anything suspicious.
They are keen to trace two young men, both around 5ft 8ins tall and wearing hooded tops, who were seen at around 4am in the vicinity of Stone Place.
Detective Sergeant Stevie Bertram, of Police Scotland, said: “The owner of the aviary suffered from smoke inhalation after trying to save her birds. She had to be treated by medical staff at the scene and in addition to her physical distress she is distraught about the loss of the birds which she has nurtured for a decade.
“In the other incident a family, including two young children, were put at risk by the reckless actions of those responsible for setting these fires.
“On both occasions, the householders were alerted to the danger by neighbours who became aware of the fires.
“We are treating these fires as suspicious and it is a matter of luck that no one has been seriously injured. I would appeal for anyone who has any information to contact Police Scotland.”
Firefighters from Dalkeith and Musselburgh tackled the aviary blaze just after 3am yesterday. It was initially thought that 10 birds were killed, although that figure has now risen.
The woman was given oxygen at the scene and was checked over by paramedics but did not have to go to hospital.