Wallace and Gromit sets destroyed by fire

Monday, October 10, 2005

The sets and props of popular claymation characters Wallace and Gromit have been destroyed in a warehouse blaze this morning in Bristol, UK.

The disaster comes only days after the US release of Nick Park's latest film featuring the characters, The Curse Of The Were-Rabbit, which topped the box office chart and took US$16.1 million (GB£9.1 million) over the weekend. The film is scheduled for UK release this Friday.

Sets and models from the new film escaped as they had not yet been added to the Aardman Animation collection hosted in Bristol. Among the damage caused by the blaze, the character Morph was lost; for many UK children the appearance of this character in Tony Hart's BBC art programmes was their first introduction to stop motion animation.

The warehouse, located near Bristol's central railway station, dated from the Victorian era and was formerly part of Ismbard Kingdom Brunel's Great Western Railway.

Ten fire crews attended the blaze, in which flames shot 100ft into the air, from 0600 BST into the afternoon, but were unable to prevent the collapse of the roof, interior walls and all three floors of the building.

An investigation will begin once the building has been made safe.