A Douglas Village trader has told The Echo that he fears the shopping centre could be closed for weeks after a fire broke out on Saturday evening, causing severe damage to the car park and dozens of cars.
The shopping centre has been closed since the incident and structural engineers are on-site this morning to assess the damage.
It is hoped that a timeline for returning cars to their owners and reopening the store will become clear as the day goes on.
Speaking to The Echo, John Neville of Neville’s Jewellers, said: “We’re hopeful we might be able to reopen in the coming days but realistically, it looks like we’ll be out of it for the next couple of weeks.
“When I saw those images of the car park, there appears to be severe structural damage in the middle, which is above some of the stores including CEX and others.
“It is also reasonably close to us,” he added.
“It appears that the structural elements above the stores there are in serious trouble.
“I’d say the car park will not be used for a number of months and I don’t think we’ll have access to the center for a week or two.”
An Post told The Echo that services from Douglas Post Office have been transferred to the Blackrock Post Office at Scally's Supervalu on the SKehard Road.
A spokesperson said that regular postal services can be carried out at any post office but all customers receiving social welfare payments should go to Blackrock.
Mr Neville said that while there are concerns over the impact of such a closure on business, the shops are covered by insurance.
“Management have been in touch with traders on a number of occasions since the incident and it’s just a situation that’s out of anybody’s control at the moment.
“We’re redeploying staff to our different stores across Cork at the moment to ensure no one loses out on hours,” he added.
“There’s hundreds of workers based in the centre and their jobs are in jeopardy so that is certainly a concern.
“It’s just an unbelievable situation.”
Mr Neville said that if the structural damage does not extend to the shops themselves, he hopes to see pedestrian access to the center given priority, but that safety is the main issue.
Local councillor Mary Rose Desmond (FF) visited the site this morning with Lord Mayor of Cork City, Cllr John Sheehan (FF) and centre management.
“The damage looks very stark in the cold light of day,” she said.
“There are meetings taking place between structural engineers and others this morning and we await the outcome of those to assess the next step.
“We had no access to the centre itself as no one is allowed in just yet,” she added.
“This morning’s meetings will really determine the next step and how quickly we can get the centre reopened and the cars back to their owners.
“The important thing to note is that Douglas itself is not closed but is very much open for business.”
Lawrence Owens, CEO of the Cork Business Association (CBA) said the fire has caused “great uncertainty for all businesses affected and their staff”.
“The Cork Business Association offers its full support, advice and guidance to all those impacted businesses due to this exceptionally serious occurrence.
“If we can be of any assistance please do not hesitate to contact our office at 021 4278295 or email firstname.lastname@example.org,” he added.