Drone footage released to Slugger O’Toole by Belfast-based Soaring Productions reveals the full extent of the damage caused to the iconic Bank Buildings during Tuesday’s inferno.
The aerial drone survey carried out by Soaring Productions – a commercially-licensed and fully-insured company – was commissioned by the emergency services to assess the remaining risk to what remains of the structure and to help structural engineers and local authorities decide what actions can and should be taken.
While the interior is completely destroyed, the fact that the façade is still standing has given hope that the building could potentially be restored.
Speaking to the BBC, NIFRS Area Commander Aidan Jennings said some “burning hotspots” remain inside Bank Buildings but the Fire Service’s work has been scaled down.
Flames are sporadically jumping up and down in places as a result of stubborn areas we can’t reach. We haven’t had anything [collapse] externally – it’s been hanging floors, debris and brickwork falling down from the internal structure. I’m optimistic that it can be saved and I’m pleased that it’s still standing.
Bronagh Lynch, an architect who specialises in the conservation of old buildings, said she hopes Bank Buildings can be salvaged.
Speaking to the Belfast Telegraph, Ms Lynch, who is a member of Royal Society of Ulster Architects (RSUA), said other buildings which have suffered huge damage have been restored.
It’s a very significant building to Belfast, and its status is recognised by the fact it’s listed by the historic environment. It’s a very important building to the city.
There was a much older building on the site [Ed – actually two] and then there was Bank Buildings which is where it got its name, then during the Troubles its was bombed and then completely restored again so its had a chequered history but it was a very splendid building in the city.
All of the floors have collapsed and the roof has collapsed, but I would certainly hope it could be salvaged. There’s a lot of lessons that can be learned from other historic fires like Windsor Castle.
It’s a big challenge but the expertise exists across the UK with the right type of consultants. Buildings like these are very important, they tell the story of the city and how it has develops.
She explained that to restore a building with this type of damage would require specialist engineers to assess the stability.
There’s then a process to help with the restoration and also getting a laser scan of the building which helps to determine if walls are leaning or bulging and that helps us put the building back together again.
This evening, the Fire Service have announced that the fire has now been extinguished.
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Thanks to Soaring Productions for sharing their remarkable footage. If you need their aerial services, you’ll find them at Suite 14, Martrey House, Ravenhill Business Park, Belfast, BT6 8AW. Enquiries to [email protected] or 07789 390454. You can also follow them on Facebook and Twitter. Consent from Soaring Productions is required for any third party to reuse or resell this footage.
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