A BLAZE has severely damaged the famous bird observatory on Fair Isle in Shetland with reports the building has now collapsed.

Firefighters were called to the Fair Isle Bird Observatory after the alarm was raised at 11.45am on Sunday.

A second crew was flown to the island by coastguard helicopter from Shetland, which lies to the north.

It is believed much of the building has been completely destroyed and there are no reports of any injuries.

READ MORE: What it feels like ... to live on Fair Isle 

A fire service spokesman said: "The Scottish Fire and Rescue Service was alerted at 11.45am on Sunday to a report of a building fire on Fair Isle.

"Operations control mobilised one fire engine to the scene at Fair Isle Bird Observatory where crews are currently tackling the fire."

The observatory on the island, which has a permanent population of about 60 people, is well known among bird watchers, nationally and internationally. 

It is important to the economy of Fair Isle, as it has become the centre for scientific research on bird migration and the seabird breeding colonies. 

The building now affected by fire was only opened in June 2010 following a £4 million investment from a number of funding bodies including the Fair Isle Bird Observatory Trust that runs its.

Birder Ian Andrews said: “Despite best efforts by all involved, the building has now collapsed and it is likely all is lost.”