A fire hasravaged Roma Studios, destroying the set of ABC's ancient Rome series, Empireand a large part of the studio.

It took 12fire engines five hours to extinguish the fire, which destroyed an area of2,800 square metres. Damage is estimated to in the region of 'tens ofthousands of Euros,' according to national daily Il Messaggero,which reported that firemen also had to knock down all of the studio'selectronically-operated doors.

The fire,which broke out at 7am on Wednesday, is believed to have been accidental andcaused by a short circuit in electrical wiring. No injuries have been reported.

Thesix-part ABC series Empire had been shooting at Roma Studios sinceJanuary, with James Frain and Roger Ashton-Griffiths in lead roles. Shooting onthe set that was ravaged by the flames had wrapped just hours before the firebroke out.

'Wehad just wrapped our shoot at 3 am. We don't know what happened,' GianlucaLeurini, a production manager at Italy's Master Film, told Il Messaggero.

CinecittaStudios, whose partners include producer Aurelio De Laurentiis and entrepreneurDiego della Valle, owns part of the land on which Roma Studios stands.

Cinecittais currently in negotiations to buy Roma Studios, which is headed by Tarak BenAmmar.

RomaStudios, which was built by producer Dino De Laurentiis in the 1960s, wasrenovated and re-opened in September 2002, after lying abandoned for over 10years.

Nextmonth, Roma Studios and Cinecitta are both set to host Brian De Palma'supcoming movie, The Black Dahlia.