The first stage of work to demolish a Kettering shop gutted by a fire could start in days.
The listed three-storey Kettering Bedding Centre unit in Regent Street was destroyed by a blaze at about 12.30pm on May 13.
Fears over the safety of the structure mean a section of the street is still cordoned off with some families unable to return home.
READ MORE: Kettering shop gutted by fire
Just the shell of the building remains with the roof collapsed.
At a meeting with Kettering Council and a fire commander on Monday (May 20), residents were told that experts had said the building would be demolished.
Cllr Mick Scrimshaw (Lab), who was at the meeting, said it was hoped work would start at the back end of this week.
He said: “The whole thing [demolition] might take two or three weeks but hopefully after the first part has happened, maybe a week, it will be safe for them to open up most of the houses that are currently unoccupied.
“After that it’s probably only the adjoining properties that will still be potentially at risk.
“Because of the precarious nature of the remaining building, 24-hour security patrols are being provided by the insurers.”
Some of the families evacuated from nearby properties were left without clothes and utensils.
The community rallied to create a group to centralise donations to them.
Cllr Scrimshaw said each household affected now has an individual point of contact at the council who will phone them at least once a day and will also be available to receive calls.
He praised the council’s reaction and suggested emergency planning is put on a council agenda to look at how to respond to future crises.
On Friday (May 17) Kettering Council said the building may have had materials containing asbestos inside.
They provided advice for anyone near ash and debris but said the health risk was low.
Kettering Bedding Centre, part of F.L.Caswell, had run a business there since the late 1960s.
The owners thanked the community for their support and said they hope to bounce back.
A shop statement said: “Our plan is to open a temporary shop as soon as possible and look to rebuild the bedding centre over time.”
The cause of the fire is still under investigation.