Northern Ireland

Primark fire in Belfast accidental, says fire service

Flames destroy the clock at the top of Bank Buildings in Belfast Image copyright PA

A major blaze that destroyed Belfast's historic Bank Buildings last year was "accidental", the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) has found.

The fire at the city centre premises, which housed Primark flagship Belfast store, burned for three days after starting on 28 August.

A cordon put in place around Bank Buildings meant 14 nearby businesses were unable to trade for months.

It has been scaled back, allowing many of the neighbouring shops to reopen.

Media playback is unsupported on your device
Media captionThe landmark building was gutted by the fire within a matter of hours

Belfast city centre saw a "drastic dip" in footfall after the fire.

On Thursday, the fire service said it had completed its "extensive investigation" into the cause of the fire and had concluded that the blaze was "accidental".

"Given the extensive damage caused by the fire, the fire investigation process was complex, detailed and protracted," added the NIFRS.

But it said it was "not appropriate" to be "more specific about the actual cause of the accidental fire" because a wider investigation by the Health and Safety Executive (HSE) is still taking place.

"The HSENI has received our Fire Investigation Report. As this forms part of their wider investigation it is not appropriate for NIFRS to be more specific about the actual cause of the accidental fire while this investigation is ongoing."

More on this story