Firefighters continued to battle the flames of Primark’s city centre store in Belfast through Tuesday night, with the fire still burning into Wednesday morning.
No one has been injured in the fire, which is believed to have started on the top floor or roof of the five-storey building on Tuesday morning.
Originally built in 1785, the standalone, grade-listed building has been used by Primark as their flagship store in Northern Ireland since 1979.
The discount retailer announced in 2016 that it would be expanding the building by 30,000 sq ft and spending an estimated £30 million on refurbishments, with work expected to be completed next month.
Shoppers and staff were evacuated yesterday from the building, with a 45 metre police cordon in place around the blaze due to “grave concerns” from the fire service that the building could collapse, with the roof and all floors already caved in.
Primark chief executive Paul Marchant said he was “deeply shocked and saddened” by the fire, adding:
“The safety and well-being of our customers, colleagues and construction team is of course the most important consideration and we are truly relieved that all were evacuated safely. We would like to thank the emergency services for their swift response and ongoing actions.
“Our store is housed in an iconic building and much loved by the people of Belfast. We would like to reassure our customers, colleagues and the wider community in Belfast that we are committed to working with the authorities and our building contractors to establish the cause of the fire.
“We are working closely with our team in Belfast to ensure they are fully supported during this challenging period. We would like to thank everybody for their support during this difficult time,” Marchant added.