Pensioner feared dead in house fire

THE blaze which destroyed a farmhouse in Moray on Monday may have claimed the life of an elderly woman who stayed there, the emergency services revealed yesterday.

More than 20 firefighters were called to the blaze at Upper Rafford, near Forres, on Monday morning. It took almost 12 hours to bring the fire under control, leaving the building close to collapse.

Yesterday, as investigations into the cause of the blaze continued, Grampian Police had still to determine whether anyone had been trapped in the building. A spokesman for the force said: "It is thought that an elderly woman who resides at the address was within the property at the time of the fire. However, it is too early to confirm that this is the case."

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The spokesman added: "A significant amount of work is being carried out to stabilise the building. Teams are facing significant challenges as a result of extensive damage caused to the house and the sub-zero temperatures."