The huge blaze that destroyed Belfast's landmark Primark store was started accidentally, investigators have confirmed.

The former flagship outlet was engulfed in flames last August which led to huge disruption to the city's retailers and trade.

The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service (NIFRS) carried out an extensive and detailed investigation into the damaged structure at the historic Bank Buildings.

Two other Primark stores have opened in the city since the fire last year.

In a statement, a NIFRS spokeswoman said: "In conjunction with the Health and Safety Executive for Northern Ireland (HSENI), we have completed our extensive investigation to determine the cause of the fire at Bank Buildings Belfast on 28 August 2018.

"We can now confirm that the cause of the fire was accidental.

"The HSENI has received our fire investigation report. As this forms part of their wider investigation it is not appropriate for NIFRS to be more specific about the actual cause of the accidental fire while this investigation is ongoing.

"Given the extensive damage caused by the fire, the fire investigation process was complex, detailed and protracted.

"We would like to thank our fire investigation team in Eastern Area Command for their diligence and tireless work in this investigation.

"We would also like to thank our partner agencies for their co-operation and assistance."

Last month, Prince Charles visited the site to learn about plans to return the city's fire-ravaged building to its former glory.

A HSENI spokesman said: "HSENI has received the NIFRS investigation report and this will be considered as part of ongoing enquiries.

"HSENI is unable to comment any further at this time."