Northern Ireland news

Primark fire not the first major city centre blaze

The scene following a fire at North Street arcade in April 2004. Photo by Hugh Russell
Marie Louise McConville

The blaze which engulfed Primark in Belfast yesterday is not the first major fire to destroy a city centre building in recent years.

In October 2004, a four-storey building on Royal Avenue just a short distance from Bank Buildings was severely damaged in a massive blaze.

Waterstones bookstore, Goldsmith's jewellers, the NI Bureau of the Press Association and the offices of McCann and McCann law firm were severely damaged.

The scene following a fire at North Street arcade in April 2004

More than 100 firefighters took several hours to contain the blaze, which police said had been started deliberately.

It later emerged the law firm had been burgled before the fire, which caused millions of pounds worth of damage.

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A programme of major re-building work followed and the building later became home to H&M fashion store.

Just six months earlier, a blaze had engulfed North Street Arcade, destroying over 20 businesses based there.

The scene following a fire at North Street arcade in April 2004. Photo by Hugh Russell

The historic 1930s arcade was completely destroyed in the fire, which was also started deliberately.

A popular shopping precinct, the landmark arcade was home to a total of 23 outlets, including arts businesses and community groups.

No-one has ever been charged in connection with the fire and the building has lain derelict since.

Cartoonist Ian Knox on the fire in a Primark store which destroyed Belfast's iconic Bank Buildings

 

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