A SUMMER evening event – complete with juggling and street theatre – is to be held to help boost trade in an area affected by a major fire last month.

Fire raged through the former St T’s Home Shop on Skinnergate, Darlington, on May 24, with the building ‘collapsing’ around rescuers.

The road has been closed to traffic since then, making deliveries difficult for all businesses and harming the night-time economy with people being unable to park outside the restaurants.

It is due to reopen soon but will close temporarily to enable the event to go ahead.

Now traders have come together with the #LoveDarlo campaign and Darlington Borough Council to host an evening of summertime fun on Skinnergate, on Thursday, June 21, just four weeks after the fire.

Superheroes will be at The Keys, and there will be salsa street dance outside Voodoo Cafe, kids’ pizza making at Al Forno and live music outside the Tapas Bar in Bondgate.

There will be family food offers in various pubs as well as balloon modelling, free face painting and police dogs Jet and Ben will be making an appearance.

Tori Gill, of marketing company TGI, which runs the #LoveDarlo campaign, said: “The council has agreed to close the road for the event.

“An event was being planned anyway on Skinnergate to increase footfall as it has dropped due to there being a few more empty shops, but since the fire it is even more necessary.

“One of the difficulties with the road being closed is that it is hard for the businesses to get deliveries and also for people to park in the evenings.”

Fire took hold at the former St T’s shop, which had been empty for about a year, in the early hours of May 24, destroying its roof and severely damaging the roof of Age UK next door.

A man in his 40s who was rescued from the scene of the blaze was later arrested and released while investigations continue. He had been treated in hospital for minor injuries.

The building was at risk of collapse some time after the fire, leading to the road being closed off.

Since then it has been undergoing work to make it safe and much of the roof has been dismantled. Its neighbouring properties have also been affected and work on the former Argos store has had to be suspended temporarily.

Businesses suffered from lack of trade during the day of the fire, as well as some being affected by thick smoke in the street as crews fought the blaze.