Shop­pers evac­u­ated as blaze guts land­mark Belfast build­ing

Malta Independent - - WORLD -

A fire has gut­ted a land­mark Belfast build­ing in a blaze that sent dark smoke bil­low­ing over the North­ern Ire­land cap­i­tal.

The North­ern Ire­land Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice says it was called Tues­day morn­ing to a blaze at the Bank Build­ings, home to cloth­ing re­tailer Pri­mark. Flames en­gulfed the roof of the struc­ture, de­stroy­ing the rooftop clock, be­fore spread­ing through the five-story build­ing. Pri­mark says shop­pers and staff were evac­u­ated safely, and po­lice cor­doned off the area as de­bris fell from the build­ing. The Bank Build­ings date from the late 18th cen­tury, though the cur­rent struc­ture was built around 1900. It was near­ing the end of a ma­jor ren­o­va­tion.

Joan McCoy, pres­i­dent of the Royal So­ci­ety of Ul­ster Ar­chi­tects, says it is “a sad day for Belfast.”

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