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Belfast Primark building so ravaged it may cave in

Aerial view of the damage to Primark building following fire [Photos] Close

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Kevin Scott

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Kevin Scott

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Kevin Scott

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Kevin Scott

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Kevin Scott

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Kevin Scott

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Kevin Scott

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Kevin Scott

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Kevin Scott

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Kevin Scott

Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire. Photo by Gregory Weeks.

Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire. Photo by Gregory Weeks.

Photo by Gregory Weeks.
Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire..

Photo by Gregory Weeks. Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire..

Photo by Gregory Weeks.
Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire..

Photo by Gregory Weeks. Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire..

Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire. Photo by Gregory Weeks.

Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire. Photo by Gregory Weeks.

Photo by Gregory Weeks.
Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire..

Photo by Gregory Weeks. Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire..

Photo by Gregory Weeks.
Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire..

Photo by Gregory Weeks. Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire..

Photo by Gregory Weeks.
Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire..

Photo by Gregory Weeks. Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire..

Photo by Gregory Weeks.
Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire..

Photo by Gregory Weeks. Aerial view over Bank Buildings following Tuesdays fire..

/

Aerial views showing the aftermath of the fire in the Bank Buildings - Primark Belfast - August 29th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott)

Belfast's landmark Bank Buildings is at risk of collapse due to structural damage caused by the ferocious blaze, a senior fire officer has warned.

The blaze that gutted the listed five-storey premises occupied by Primark was still smouldering last night, more than 24 hours after it took hold.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) confirmed that "small pockets of fire" remained within the 233-year-old structure, causing much of the city's main shopping street to remain cordoned off for a second day due to a 45-metre exclusion zone.

NIFRS said that structural engineers were at the scene assessing the building yesterday.

Asked if it or other authorities were considering demolition on safety grounds, NIFRS said that "this decision will be dependent on the structural engineers' assessment of the building".

When asked if neighbouring properties were at risk, it added: "Structural engineers will be able to ascertain the risk and neighbouring buildings will be notified accordingly."

More than 20 businesses remained shut in Belfast city centre yesterday as Belfast City Council hosted an emergency meeting with retailers.

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Despite the disruption, Retail NI chief executive Glyn Roberts said that "Belfast city centre is still open for business" and would "bounce back".

The cause of the blaze, which at one stage was being tackled by 80 firefighters and 14 appliances, remains unknown.

Staff and shoppers were quickly evacuated from the store after it broke out on Tuesday morning, with no reports of injuries.

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Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Compsite showing the fire from 11:06 am to 4:35 pm


Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Compsite showing the fire from 11:06 am to 4:35 pm Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service are attending an incident in Belfast city centre.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service are attending an incident in Belfast city centre.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service are attending an incident in Belfast city centre.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service are attending an incident in Belfast city centre.

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

Kevin Scott / Belfast Telegraph

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Firefighters deal with a major blaze at Primark in Belfast on August 28th 2018 (Photo by Kevin Scott for Belfast Telegraph)

NIFRS area commander Aidan Jennings said structural engineers are working at the scene to establish the extent of the damage, and whether the building's famous facade can be saved. "There is still a risk it could collapse and that's why we have the cordons in place," he said.

"At the facade of the building you can see the structural damage and the collapsed and twisted steel, but we can't access that area because of risk of it collapsing."

Mr Jennings said the fire was extreme and had caused major damage and structural collapse on all five floors of the building, which was undergoing a multimillion-pound refurbishment to add 30,000 sq ft.

Firefighters were able to save the extension and prevent the fire from spreading to the new part. Water from the River Lagan was used to douse the flames.

Mr Jennings described the conditions facing firefighters as "very difficult" with "extreme" temperatures.

"On a number of occasions we had to withdraw fire crews from the concrete stairs due to the collapses inside the building causing heat," he said.

"This has been very much a team effort, not just with fire crew but all agencies."

Firefighters are continuing to deal with hot spots and areas of rubble, stock and timber burning under the collapsed structures.

NIFRS said that the exterior of the building "remains structurally intact" but that it was working with engineers to "determine the structural integrity and safety of the building".

Describing the incident as "ongoing", it added that operations were "expected to be scaled back to three fire appliances" last night.

"There continue to be small pockets of fire within the building and a 45-metre exclusion zone remains in place," NIFRS added.

"There has been structural collapse within the building today.

"The exterior of the building remains structurally intact.

"We are continuing to work closely with engineers from Belfast City Council to determine the structural integrity and safety of the building. Once this has been completed a fire investigation will commence into the cause.

"In conjunction with our partners in Belfast City Council and the PSNI we have been facilitating escorted access for business owners in the local area who are affected by the incident to enable them to access and secure their properties."

NIFRS confirmed that the building had a sprinkler system, but added that "fire investigation will determine if the sprinkler system was activated and whether this would have had any impact on such an aggressive fire".

It added: "Building regulations define whether commercial premises are required to have a sprinkler system fitted. This is determined by the premises type and the size of the floor or compartment area."

The USDAW union, which represents Primark workers, said it had met the company yesterday.

It confirmed that all staff will be paid up until the end of the week.

Union area organiser Michala Lafferty said that further discussions will take place over the next few days to agree what happens next.

She said: "Our members are extremely distressed and concerned as they now enter a period of uncertainty.

"The company has reassured me that the welfare and job security of the staff is their priority."


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