Belfast City Council has said it is intensifying its efforts to help the city centre recover from a major fire that devastated a landmark building.

The front section of the historic Bank Buildings, which housed a Primark store, was destroyed in a blaze on Tuesday which took firefighters days to extinguish.

The Northern Ireland Fire Service said this evening that the scene had now been handed over to Primark and the 14 businesses remain closed within an area that is still cordoned off.

The investigation into the cause of the fire is ongoing and fire crews are expected to maintain a watching brief on site over the coming days.

One fire appliance remains at the scene as a precautionary measure.

In a statement this evening, a spokesman for Belfast City Council said they were continuing to intensify efforts to keep the city centre open for business.

"The strategic policy and resources committee, alongside other agencies, today resolved to ensure that council continues its efforts to restore the city to the very vibrant place that it is," the spokesman said.

"Council officers are also in close daily contact with businesses in the immediate area of the fire to offer whatever support they can to ensure they can continue to operate.

Businesses operating on Castle Street, which remains within the cordoned-off zone, were able to open on Friday, but were continuing to struggle.

They were complimentary about the work of the fire service, but expressed frustration at the continuing cordon.

Paul Donaghy, owner of Cafe West, said he had to throw fresh produce out as he was not able to sell it.

"Usually at lunch time we have queues out the door," he said.

"But many people don't realise we are open. It has knocked the heart out of me."