Work began this morning on demolishing the historic Myer department store in Hobart following Saturday’s massive fire.
The facade, which dates back to 1836, is now being torn down and a large hose is being used to wash down the walls to stop toxic dust spreading. Workers are also trying to protect surrounding businesses.
Retailers and commuters face a day of disruption in Hobart following the fire – the biggest seen in Tasmania in years.
The Liverpool St Myer covers a quarter of the central block of Hobart’s shopping district and is connected by internal arcades with dozens of other stores, chain retailers and specialty shops.
The Australian Retailers Association executive officer in Tasmania, Duncan McDougall told Inside Retailing Online dozens of shops had been badly smoke and heat affected.
Miraculously, no-one was injured in the huge blaze, however some staff will have to wait a couple of days before personal belongings can be retrieved from the Murray St portion of Myer if the building is deemed safe enough to enter.
Myer store manager Peter Monachetti has reassured the 200 staff they will receive full pay until Christmas.
He said the company was looking at whether the Murray St section of the store could be salvaged to allow restricted retail operations to continue in the short term.
Liverpool St will remain closed today between Elizabeth and Murray streets with traffic to be diverted along Elizabeth St.
One lane of traffic will be open on Liverpool St between Argyle and Elizabeth streets, but only Metro buses will be permitted to turn left from Argyle St into Liverpool St.
Criterion St will be closed near the pedestrian access to Elizabeth St, while Mathers Lane and the Cat and Fiddle Arcade will be closed.
A high wire fence has been erected around the restricted area preventing vehicle and pedestrian traffic from accessing Liverpool St, the Elizabeth St Mall adjacent the Cat and Fiddle Arcade and the arcade itself.
To prevent traffic congestion in the city, drivers are being asked to avoid the area unless absolutely necessary.
Federal Labor leader, Kevin Rudd will fly to Tasmania this afternoon to inspect the damage with Tasmania’s Premier, Paul Lennon.