Fire at Carpetright showroom in Connswater retail park

The flames tore through the building as crowds looked on

A large blaze that destroyed a furniture showroom in east Belfast was "extremely dangerous", the Fire and Rescue Service has said.

The fire broke out at the Carpetright store at Connswater retail park at about 13:45 BST on Saturday.

More than 40 firefighters were sent to the scene, tackling the blaze inside the shop and using aerial appliances to bring it under control.

Alan Walmsley of the Fire and Rescue Service said it was "very severe".

Firefighter at Carpetright blaze Firefighters had to work to prevent the blaze spreading to neighbouring shops

"It was an extremely dangerous fire to deal with - we had to fight to prevent it from spreading to neighbouring retail units," he said.

"Thankfully all the staff and members of the public had managed to escape the shop when the fire was noticed.

"While we are dealing with damage to the local economy and the retail unit, thankfully there were no severe injuries or loss of life."

Thick smoke could be seen for miles around, while flames were clearly visible through the smashed front doors of the shop.

An investigation has begun into what happened.

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