A BIRD lover has been left devastated after vandals set fire to her aviary.
Hilary Cassidy, 55, was alerted by a neighbour and ran into the garden in a dressing gown to battle the flames.
But 18 of the 30 birds, including finches, budgies and lovebirds, died in the fire at the rear of a house at Hill Place, Mayfield, Dalkeith.
Mrs Cassidy said: “My neighbour woke up in the middle of the night and spotted this orange glow. He went outside to see the shed on fire and got hose to try to put it out.
“He banged on my door and I joined him in my dressing gown, fighting the fire with the hose, trying to save the poor things.
“When it was put out, the birds that remained were all huddled together. It was heartbreaking.”
Mrs Cassidy, who suffers from asthma, was given oxygen for the effects of smoke. She said she was going to give away the surviving birds because she could not bear the thought of losing them too if she was targeted again.
Police said the fire was being treated as suspicious and appealed for witnesses.