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Last Updated: Tuesday, 25 May, 2004, 10:26 GMT 11:26 UK
Historic building damaged by fire
Firefighter tackles blaze at Ashton Market Hall
More than 90 firefighters tackled the blaze at its height
Ninety firefighters have been tackling a huge blaze at an historic building in Greater Manchester.

Crews were called to the Grade II listed market hall in Ashton-under-Lyne at 0300 BST on Tuesday.

The Victorian building was already well alight and flames were coming through the roof when firefighters arrived at the scene.

There were no reports of injuries but the building has been extensively damaged with very little left inside.

Twelve fire engines and three aerial appliances along with police were still at the scene more than four hours after the fire broke out.

Last webcam shot of Ashton Market Hall - courtesy of Tameside Council
This was the last webcam shot of the market hall before the fire
More than 100 businesses are based in the market, which is the biggest in Tameside and was built in 1881.

Stallholders - many of who were in tears on Tuesday morning - were due to meet council staff outside the Bowling Green pub.

Andrew Williams, whose family has run a cafe and fresh food stall at the market for several decades, said: "I'm totally devastated. I got a call at six this morning telling me the news and at first I thought it was a joke.

"I'm sure there are people in there who aren't insured. We are, but everything we had, business-wise, was in there.

"But you can't keep a good man down."

Smoke from fire at Ashton market hall
The market hall was built in 1881 and is grade two listed
People with stalls on the outdoor market have been asked to stay away.

Wellington Road, from Penny Meadow to its junction with Oldham Road, was closed along with Turner Lane and a number of access roads near the market hall and diversions were put in place along the Ashton bypass.

Tameside Council said it hoped to preserve the shell of the building, but said the walls would need to be shored up in the short term.

The usual Tuesday outdoor flea market on the market place was cancelled but markets staff hope to get it open again as soon as possible, and to ensure the monthly farmers market, due on Sunday, goes ahead, a spokeswoman added.

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