A fire on the eleventh floor of the Europa Hotel in Belfast city centre on Friday evening is suspected to have been caused accidentally.
Group Commander Paul Rogers from the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) said his team “are treating it as an accidental fire” and believe it was caused by something of an electrical nature.
The NIFRS was called to deal with the fire at 6.36pm, with 35 fire fighters in total ending up tackling the blaze.
The famous historic hotel was evacuated by staff and fire fighters, and both Great Victoria Street and Bruce Street were closed during the incident.
Group Commander Rogers said first attendance reached the scene within three minutes, and he believes that the service’s early intervention stopped the flames from spreading beyond the eleventh floor bedroom it began in.
He added that no one was hurt or injured.
"We were presented with smoke issuing from the eleventh floor of the building and we ensured the building was being evacuated appropriately, and then sent breathing apparatus teams up to that floor where we extinguished the fire.”
He said the entire procedure took around an hour and a half.
“The staff did a great job in the evacuation and we continued that. It was the fast response that really made the difference, I believe,” he continued.
Police reopened the surrounding roads at around 8.10pm on Friday evening.
One resident told how they were evacuated from the building as the fire alarm sounded. They said initially they believed it was a false alarm or a fire drill, but it quickly became clear that it was for real.
Another said: “Some people were outside with suitcases, perhaps not sure if it was going to continue all night.
“The ground floor bar was pretty busy and some took their drinks with them as they were evacuated. I saw a discarded plate on a nearby wall where someone appeared to have taken their dinner out with them as well.”
People gathered outside the building as crews worked to tackle the fire.
Public transport had been affected, with some Metro 7s unable to access Great Victoria Street for a period, but later returned to normal.
The hotel recently celebrated its 50th birthday.
It was opened in 1971 by Grand Metropolitan Hotels, and purchased by the late Sir William Hastings in 1993 after it was taken over by receivers. The pioneering hotelier invested £8m and reopened the hotel in 1994.
It was known as the world’s most bombed hotel, having been targeted 33 times between 1970 and 1994.