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Teen charged over huge Belfast blaze that devastated businesses in city’s Cathedral Buildings

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Firefighters tackle the blaze at Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. Pic: Pacemaker

Firefighters tackle the blaze at Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. Pic: Pacemaker

Firefighters tackle the blaze at Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. Pic: Pacemaker

An 18-year-old man has been charged following a massive fire in Belfast’s Cathedral Quarter.

The Old Cathedral Buildings in the Church Street area of the city was gutted in the blaze on Monday.

The teen is also suspected of being behind the burglary of a nearby business in the early hours of the morning.

“The man was charged with arson with intent to endanger life, burglary and possession of a Class B controlled dug,” a PSNI spokesperson confirmed.

“As is usual procedure, all charges will be reviewed by the Public Prosecution Service.

“He is due to appear before Belfast Magistrates' Court on Tuesday, 4th October.”

Meanwhile, an online crowd-funding campaign has over doubled its initial target within hours of being set up in a bid to help artists whose studios were destroyed.

Commercial tenants been left devastated following the blaze which wiped away years worth of work in just a few hours.

A GoFundMe page has been set up by occupants and has more than doubled its £3,000 goal just four hours after going live.

“Hi, we are the occupants of a few studios in Cathedral Building that burnt down this morning in Belfast city centre,” the online fundraiser explains.

“We are putting this fund together after several requests from friends and supporters to help us out after losing all of our work, tech, and equipment in the fire.”

Organisers plan to distribute donations evenly to all the artists affected by the blaze.

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“We obviously never expect to recuperate the majority of our losses as the fire has destroyed everything, but any donations will help us to try get back a little bit of what we have lost in terms of income, computers, and other smaller objects,” the campaign explains.

“Most of the losses are intangible and irreplaceable, artwork, sketchbooks, and research etc.

“Please only help if you can, even a share makes such a difference, and we know times are tough for everyone right now.”

In the first five hours, 321 people made contributions ranging from £5 to £250 bringing the total to £6,884 and rising by the minute.

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Firefighters tackle the blaze at Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. Pic: Pacemaker

Firefighters tackle the blaze at Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. Pic: Pacemaker

Firefighters tackle the blaze at Belfast's Cathedral Quarter. Pic: Pacemaker

More than 50 firefighters and eight fire appliances battled to bring the fire under control.

A number of premises are believed to have been completely destroyed and other commercial properties at the site have been forced to close.

It comes after graphic designer Luke Godsend (39), who is among those who have lost their studio, revealed the personal impact of the fire. 

“We have lost a lot of computers, purpose built furniture, we have been there for seven and a half years,” he said.

“It's like a house, you do it up over time, so it’s sad.”

Mr Godsend said he was “emotional” while he watched the fire brigade continue to hose down the building.

“Even standing here now, it just feels unbelievable, it’s hard to process it,” he said.

The artist will be able to continue working from home as much of his work was backed up.

“We all have laptops so we can work mobile, but it's not going to be the same, it will never be the same,” he said. “We don’t have our cool wee studio in city centre anymore.”

On Monday evening, motorists were advised that the that the junctions between York Street and Donegal St, Academy Street and Exchange Street, Talbot Street and Donegal Street have been closed as a result of the fire.

They’ve been told to find alternative routes and allow extra time for their journey.


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