Cause of Primark blaze still remains a mystery as Tesco store reopens
Nine months on from the devastating Primark fire in Belfast city centre, the cause of the blaze has still not been determined.
It comes as the neighbouring Tesco Metro store on Royal Avenue finally reopened yesterday after the fire forced its immediate closure.
The store, which employs 95 people, had been shut since the Primark blaze on August 28 last year.
It was among a number of businesses in the vicinity of Primark forced to close their doors due to the fire.
A cordon was installed around the area to protect the public from debris from the shell of the building, which is expected to be further reduced next month to allow buses to pass through the city centre.
A spokesman for the NI Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said yesterday that the investigation into the Primark fire is still ongoing.
"This is a complex process due to the nature of such a large-scale incident and there has not yet been a determination in regard to the cause of the fire," he added.
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A Primark spokesperson added: "Primark continues to assist the NIFRS and HSENI (Health and Safety Executive Northern Ireland) with their investigation."
Glyn Roberts, chief executive of Retail NI, said retailers need answers about the cause of the fire that left them out of business for several months.
"Given the scale of the disruption to Belfast city centre, it's important that we get to the bottom of the fire, not least because there could obviously be lessons for other retailers to learn from to ensure this never happens again.
"A number of neighbouring retailers and hospitality businesses have lost out after closing their doors so we need to know the truth about what happened on that day in August. We are not far off a year since this happened and we need answers."
Mr Roberts has also called for a rejuvenation fund for the city centre. "There is no reason, with the right investment and partnership, that Belfast couldn't be in the top 10 of retail destinations in the UK," he said.
"Top of our list is creating the conditions so that more independent retailers could locate in the city centre to offer something different and distinctive to consumers.
"We will be engaging with the newly elected Belfast City Councillors to outline how this could be achieved."
The Tesco outlet is one of the final businesses affected by the fire to reopen its doors.
Last month, Spanish fashion store Zara reopened after seven months out of action.
Among the other businesses affected by the Primark fire were Argento, McDonalds and DV8.
Following the fire, Primark opened two new stores in Belfast city centre on Castle Street and Donegall Place.
Work is currently ongoing to restore the bank buildings and its facade, with Primark hoping to move back into the building in future.