Fire crews remain on site dampening a fire which took over almost half of the Littlewoods Building in Liverpool last night, however developer Capital & Centric said this morning the impact “is not as bad as first feared”.
The fire involved the West Wing of the Littlewoods Building on Edge Lane. Merseyside Fire & Rescue arrived on the scene at 8pm Sunday evening, and found the roof of the property alight.
At its height, six fire engines, as well as three support pumps, three combined platform ladders, a high volume pump, command support unit and incident command unit were in attendance.
The fire is now under control and crews have prevented it from spreading to the middle section and East Wing of the building, which remains undamaged.
Developer Capital & Centric has a long leasehold on Littlewoods from Liverpool City Council with £50m plans to develop the site into film studios, and in June announced an 80,000 sq ft letting to film production company Twickenham Studios.
Despite the fire at one point reaching an “inferno” according to Adam Higgins, co-founder of Capital & Centric, this morning he said there had been “massive relief” that the damage to the building was not as bad as first feared.
Speaking to Place North West, Higgins said: “At the height of the fire we feared the worst. But this morning the building is still intact, including the iconic clock tower, and the hands are even still on the clock.
“The fire didn’t spread to the East Wing, which is where Twickenham Studio will be located, so we’re hopeful there will be no delays to its opening.
“All the walls are still standing so at the moment fingers are crossed that it will be saved.”
As of this morning, the investigation into the cause of the fire was yet to get under way as access into the building was still limited.
According to the fire service, Littlewoods has been assessed by a structural engineer, with “no concerns at this time over the integrity of the building”.
Merseyside Fire & Rescue 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.
“We are all Merseyside firefighters and this building is as much iconic to us as it is to anyone else, so we are really pleased that we have been able to prevent further spread of fire.
“It has been a challenging incident but we are in a position with the council where we feel the structural integrity of the building may remain intact.”
Twickenham Studio is due to open in Littlewoods in 2020.