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Fire Damages Iconic Liverpool Site Set for New Film and TV Studio

A fire has destroyed part of the Littlewoods Building in Liverpool, on the site that was recently unveiled as the base for a major new £50 million ($67 million) film and TV studio in the English city.

The building that was damaged was unoccupied and there are no injuries. About 50 firefighters tackled the blaze, which took hold Sunday evening, U.K. time. It was brought under control in the early hours but firefighters are still at the scene.

In June, Twickenham Studios and property developer Capital & Centric unveiled their project to create a 20,000-square-foot film and TV studio complex using the art deco buildings once occupied by defunct British department store and football gambling company Littlewoods, plus surrounding land.

The full impact on the film studio plans were not immediately clear, but a spokesman for the Merseyside Fire Service told Variety that the building is split into two wings and the the part designated for the studio complex is thought to have escaped major damage. Structural engineers are continuing to assess the situation.

A spokesman for the studio project told Variety that an on-site briefing between the studio team and fire and rescue officers was currently underway Monday morning.

“Last night was extremely difficult for our team, the city and the many thousands with a connection to this landmark building,” said Adam Higgins, cofounder of Capital & Centric in a statement. “Our heartfelt thanks go out to the fire service, who battled throughout the night to save as much as they could.”

He added: “The building is so important to the social heritage of Liverpool and has always been at the heart of our plans to create a hub for TV and film. We won’t let this put us off. The city’s outpouring of good will for our restoration plans has floored us. This is a setback, but we won’t let it hamper our ambitions for Littlewoods to be the home of Liverpool’s creative industries.”

When the studio plans were unveiled, Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson said they were “a fantastic vote of confidence in the city’s booming film industry.” As the blaze took hold he tweeted: “We have worked so hard to secure funding and a partner to get it going, a real setback.”

Merseyside Fire Service area manager Paul Murphy said: “This has been a significant fire and extremely difficult for our crews to deal with due to the size of the building. However, crews have worked extremely hard to battle this fire and have prevented it from spreading into the remainder of such an iconic building.”

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