Northern Ireland

Belfast Primark fire: Blaze put out after three days

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Media captionDrone footage shows the extent of the destruction caused by the fire at the Bank Buildings

A huge fire that destroyed a Primark store in Belfast city centre has been extinguished, three-and-a-half days after it began.

The charred sandstone facade is all that is left of the historic Bank Buildings at Castle Junction.

It started near the top of the building at about 11:00 BST on Tuesday, causing the roof and floors to collapse.

The fire service said on Friday evening that the blaze had been put out after what had been a "complex operation".

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Image caption The fire started near the top of the Bank Buildings are quickly spread through the floors

The landmark five-storey building was quickly evacuated on Tuesday morning and no-one was hurt by the fire.

A cordon remains in place around the Bank Buildings and 14 businesses that fall within it have been closed since Tuesday.

The businesses will have their rates reviewed as a result of their forced closure.

An investigation into the cause of the fire is continuing and firefighters will remain at the scene over the next few days.

The fire service praised the crews who tackled the blaze, saying that their efforts in the "challenging incident" had been "tremendous".

It also said it was "grateful" for the "support from the public".

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Media captionThe landmark building was gutted by the fire within a matter of hours

The Primark store was being refurbished and extended at an estimated cost of £30m.

Firefighters were able to prevent fire spreading to the extension at the rear of the Bank Buildings.

Structural engineers have assessed the buildings amid concerns that it could collapse.

A senior firefighter said on Thursday that he was "optimistic that it could be saved".

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