Traders affected by a fire that tore through a busy town centre street in Ballymena earlier this week are keen to get back to business after being deprived of their places of work.
The fire, which is thought to have started in the upstairs of a furniture shop on Broughshane Street, quickly blazed its way through a number of buildings on Tuesday evening.
Edel Kennedy runs a barber shop on Broughshane Street along with Catriona McNaughton.
Edel said on Thursday afternoon that while she is keen to re-open Ballymena Barber Company as soon as possible, she must await the verdict of damage assessors in case the building itself has been left structurally unsound by Tuesday’s inferno.
She said: “I think our shop might actually be okay although the upstairs of it might be water damaged. What we don’t know about is the building, the structure of it as such, so we are waiting for a report about how stable it is. If they can go on in they might be able to let us in and sort ourselves out. The rest of the buildings, they might have to be knocked down.”
She continued: “There’s insurance people coming out to assess our building for loss and damages but what we’re hoping is that if they think it’s safe enough then we can get back to work. They won’t let us back unless it’s safe for us and safe for the public too.”
In the days since the blaze took hold, much has been said about the help that will be on offer to the traders affected from the local business community.
Ms Kennedy said that hasn’t been mere talk and that concrete offers of assistance have been forthcoming.
“We’ve had so many offers of help,” she said. “So many people in Ballymena have offered to help us; businesses, shops. They haven’t just said they would help, they really did do it.”
She also paid tribute to the owners of the Woodgreen Furniture shop where the blaze started, saying: “They’re a family-run business and they really are very nice people. They’re devastated.”
She added: “We want to say thanks to everyone who has offered to help, all the businesses in the town and to all our customers.”
An investigation into the fire’s cause is ongoing.