Youngsters were seen clambering around Forfar’s old bingo hall in the lead to up the inferno which gutted the town centre building.
As investigations continue into the cause of the ferocious blaze, the possibility it was sparked by young intruders is believed to be an early line of inquiry being pursued by detectives.
Fire crews returned on Monday to damp down the charred shell of the Pavilion in Queen Street.
Demolition of gutted shell to begin soon
Bulldozers are now expected to move in within days to tackle the structural damage.
The site’s owner said it was “miraculous” no-one had been injured, and surrounding properties in the narrow street escaped damage.
In a town centre fire like that, it is the residents you are worried about.
Businessman Bill Watson
Forfar businessman Bill Watson hailed the work of Scottish Fire and Rescue Service crews who were met with huge balls of flame bursting through the Pavilion roof.
“They did an amazing job,” said Mr Watson, whose firm Albamuir owns the property.
“In a town centre fire like that, it is the residents you are worried about.
“For no-one to be injured and to contain the damage to our building is miraculous.”
Youngsters have previously broken into bingo hall site
Local sources have said at least two youngsters were seen on top of the Queen Street wall surrounding the building shortly before.
Mr Watson said it would not be appropriate to speculate on any possible cause at this stage, but confirmed children had previously broken into the old bingo hall.
“We have had incidents, but not on a regular basis,” he said.
“Once or twice I’ve brought it up with the police when we noticed the fencing was pulled aside, but it seemed to be something that happened more in the summer.
“It was secure and they had to pull down the fencing to get in.”
He said contractors would be moving in to clear the site by the end of this week or the beginning of next.
I spoke to my neighbour but wasn’t hanging about – I just left the house.
Queen Street resident Beverley Stirling
One resident living directly opposite the bingo hall spoke of the ferocity with which the fire took hold.
Residents saw blaze rip through old hall
Beverley Stirling said: “I heard banging and looked out my window to see the flames and smoke coming from one end of the building.
“I spoke to my neighbour but wasn’t hanging about – I just left the house.
“It went through the roof and then just right through the building, from one end to the other.
“It was all really quick and it was well up when the fire crews arrived.”
Another local said the thought they were hearing the sound of fireworks before witnessing the dramatic blaze.
Queen Street residents were allowed back into their homes late on Sunday night.
Police Scotland said enquiries are ongoing.
“Anyone with information is urged to contact police on 101, quoting incident 1721 of 29 November 29,” said a spokesperson.
“Alternatively, you can call Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111, if you wish to remain anonymous.”