A fire that caused extensive damage to a builders' merchants near Ballymena yesterday started accidentally, the NI Fire and Rescue Service has said.
The blaze broke out at the JP Corry outlet, next to a petrol filling station on Crankill Road, shortly after 6:30pm.
More than 30 firefighters were tasked to the incident, which caused major traffic disruption on the main road between Ballymena and Ballymoney.
Fire crews were assisted by staff from Northern Ireland Water, Northern Ireland Electricity and the NI Environment Agency.
The cause of the blaze has been investigated and found to be "accidental".
The NIFRS tweeted: "The cause of the fire at JP Corry’s Ballymena has been confirmed as accidental. Over 30 Firefighters worked hard throughout the night to contain the fire to the two storey building. The incident has been dealt with & Firefighters left this scene at 9.40am this morning."
A statement issued by JP Corry earlier today said: "We would like to reiterate our enormous thanks to the local emergency services following last nights’ fire at our JP Corry Robert Guy branch in Ballymena who worked throughout the night.
"Our priority is of course to make sure the site is safe and to conduct our analysis so that work can commence to get this historic site back up-and-running for our customers and colleagues.
"Customers can continue to collect materials from our other local JP Corry branch at Pennybridge Industrial Estate, or order materials for delivery as normal.
"All seven colleagues who worked at the site have been redeployed to our other local branches – and there is no risk to their roles."
A spokesperson for the Northern Ireland Fire & Rescue Service (NIFRS) said six pumping appliances, an aerial appliance, a water tank and 36 firefighters were engaged in the firefighting operation on Sunday night.
The Mayor of Mid and East Antrim, Councillor Maureen Morrow, said her thoughts were with the staff and management at JP Corry.
"I am shocked and deeply saddened by the scale of devastation caused by the fire at JP Corry builders merchants’ yard close to the A26 Applegreen between Ballymena and Ballymoney," Cllr Morrow said.
"JP Corry is one of Northern Ireland’s leading building suppliers and to hear that one of their branches has been totally destroyed by a fire is absolutely devastating news and while local emergency services remain at the scene, I would like to also extend my thoughts to the staff and management.
"I want to thank the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, whose quick actions and bravery prevented the fire spreading further.”