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Last Updated: Saturday, 11 November 2006, 18:30 GMT
Blaze at shop was 'not malicious'
Fire damage
The building may now have to be demolished
An investigation is under way into the cause of a fire which destroyed a shop in Antrim.

The blaze started at the Pound Shop on Railway Street shortly after 2100 GMT on Friday. An amusement arcade and other buildings had to be evacuated.

Initially, police suspected arson but later said the fire was not malicious, and they were keeping an open mind.

The town's deputy mayor, Adrian Watson, said the "great wee listed building" might have to be demolished.

He said "it may be in danger of falling down".

"What remains of the structure is going to have to be surveyed to see how safe it is," he added.

Scene of the fire
It was a complex fire because it was a large building
Geoff White

It took more than 40 firefighters to contain the blaze, which was well developed by the time crews arrived.

Geoff White from the Fire and Rescue Service said the damage could have been worse, but for the actions of crews which managed to get it under control.

He said firefighters had to try to stop the fire spreading to nearby buildings.

"This was a very large fire. At the height of the fire we had eight appliances here and some 45 personnel," he said.

"It was a complex fire because it was a large building, a well developed fire and there were a number of buildings in close proximity.

"Obviously, another concern was the public safety and we had to take measures to ensure that those that were in the adjoining businesses and premises had left."

On Friday night, police diverted traffic away from roads in the town while firefighters tackled the blaze.

Conor MacAuley reports on the damaged caused

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