A major blaze destroyed the roof of Co-operative Wholesale Society’s historic headquarters and brought part of Manchester city centre to a standstill on Monday night.  Wates Construction was renovating the grade II-listed six-storey building into offices as part of the £800m Noma redevelopment.

Eight fire engines raced to the former CWS building, near Victoria railway station, when the alarm was raised at around 5.30pm.  Over 50 firefighters battled for four hours to get the high-rise blaze under control, which appears to have destroyed the pitched roof section of the building.  Tram services were halted in the area and electricity supplies were isolated as a precaution.  A fire service drone flew over the scene as part of the operation to pick up on heatspots, transmitting images to the ground.

One worker told the Manchester Evening News: “I was working today but left the site at about 4.30pm. I got a call to come back because the building had been on fire.  Some workers had been carrying out grinding work but we have no idea what has caused the fire.”

Crews were expected to remain at the scene overnight.

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