THE National Ice Climbing Centre has been closed temporarily after a fire broke out in its steam room.

Firefighters tackled the blaze after it erupted at around 2.45pm on Wednesday in the back of the Ice Factor in Kinlochleven.

More than 80 people had to be evacuated as crews from Kinlochleven, Fort William and Oban fought the flames, which caused extensive damage to the sauna and steam room and smoke damage throughout the building.

The centre, which opened in 2003 as the world's largest indoor ice climbing facility, will be closed until Monday at the earliest.

Jamie Smith, owner of Ice Factor International, said the cost of the damage could run into tens of thousands of pounds.

He said: “I would like to thank the staff and emergency services for their very quick response to this incident as soon as the fire alarm activated. The fire crews did an amazing job in very trying circumstances.

“While we await the outcome of the investigation into the cause of the fire, I wish to reassure our many loyal customers that we will work very hard to ensure Ice Factor Kinlochleven, one of Scotland's top adventure tourism attractions is open again for business as soon as possible.”

More than 162,000 visitors have attended the centre this year.