I spent several hours at the scene of the fire at the Primark store in Belfast city centre yesterday afternoon and like many onlookers could scarcely believe what I was seeing.
The fire had taken hold very quickly and was clearly a major one with the building extensively damaged and nearby shops, offices, cafes and restaurants were forced to close due to the fire and smoke.
Once again the men and women of the fire service are due high praise for their professionalism and bravery in tackling the situation and ensuring the safety of both the general public and property.
The scenes were reminiscent of the Troubles when many of our buildings were destroyed by bombs planted by the Provisional IRA.
I understand that the refurbishment of the listed building was close to completion and I spoke to staff who understandably expressed fears for their jobs.
Alderman Jim Rodgers, Ulster Unionist Party, Belfast