Blaze destroys 'Casino Royale' film set at Pinewood

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The Independent Online

The studio where many of the James Bond adventures were filmed has been destroyed by fire.

Witnesses who saw the blaze at the Bond sound stage at Pinewood Studios in Buckinghamshire yesterday said flames leapt dozens of feet into the air. It took around 60 firefighters to bring the fire under control, leaving the iconic building blackened, with its roof buckling.

Filming on the new 007 film, Casino Royale, starring Daniel Craig as the undercover agent, is believed to have finished last week. Many of the scenes in the forthcoming movie, reported to have a budget of $72m (£39m), were shot in Venice. The fire-ravaged studio, which is about 50 metres by 100 metres, had been turned into a replica of the Italian city. Three people were in the building when the fire service was alerted at 11.18am. They escaped unaided and were not hurt.

Fraser Pearson, a spokesman for the Buckinghamshire Fire Brigade, said that after the flames were extinguished a 200-metre exclusion zone was imposed around the damaged building because of the risk of exploding gas canisters. There were at least 20 oxyacetylene cylinders in the building when it caught fire, some of which had exploded.

Mr Pearson said: "It's sad to see such an iconic building in this sorry state. "[The building] was 100 per cent engulfed in fire. It's got the remains of the 007 logo outside. It's now blackened and buckled at the top."

It is not the first time a Bond set has been ravaged by fire at Pinewood. In 1984, there was an explosion at the set built in 1976 for The Spy Who Loved Me and used in four subsequent films, causing £1.5m worth of damage.

The stage reopened in 1985 as the Albert R Broccoli 007 Stage, named after the producer of many Bond movies. Bond films have been shot at Pinewood since Dr No in 1962. The 71-year-old studio complex has been the backdrop for a car chase in Goldfinger and was Spectre Island in From Russia With Love.

Workers at Pinewood told BBC News they initially thought the fire was a special effect

Jean McVean, 27, who runs a special effects company SFX-ltd.com at Pinewood, said she could see the smoke from her home a mile away in Iver Heath. She said: "We have a unit at Pinewood Studios, so we jumped in our car to check that our stuff was ok. There was a very big plume of smoke. We could see the Bond stage was on fire. There were flames coming out of the roof. The roof has caved in. It was a very big fire."

Daniel Pickering, who also works at the studios, told BBC News: "[The stage] is the jewel in Pinewood's crown. To see it go up in flames is a real shame."

A spokesman for Pinewood Shepperton, the studio's owner, said the extent of the damage was not yet known but that it was believed to be "significant".

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