Historic film sets destroyed by huge fire at Universal Studios
Monday 02 June 2008
Hollywood woke up to a scene straight from one of its own disaster movies yesterday, after a massive fire broke out at the city's biggest film studio, destroying several historic film sets and damaging one of the industry's most valuable video archives.
Some 300 firefighters were called to Universal Studios in Los Angeles early on Sunday, after a blaze broke out in a backlot area containing New York and New England street scenes, which had been used in such well-known productions as Seinfeld and War of the Worlds.
The famous courthouse square where the final scenes of Back to the Future were filmed was ravaged by the flames, while the artificial clock tower that allowed Michael J Fox to travel forward in time during the film was reported to have been damaged.
"There's some Hollywood history going up in smoke today, and we're doing our best to minimise the damage," said James Barnes of the LA County Fire Department yesterday.
A warehouse holding video vaults containing 40,000 original and master versions of old Universal films was also burnt to the ground. Initial reports said the contents of the vaults had been "compromised" though it was unclear whether anything irreplaceable had been lost.
Helicopters dropped water on several structures within the 230-acre site, while water cannons struggled to prevent 100ft flames spreading to adjacent buildings. Thick black smoke poured more than half a mile into the air, causing a haze that blanketed the western side of the city as day broke.
The fire, which was first reported at around 4.45am, had been contained to a single structure by 9am. It was not immediately clear how the fire started, although a soundstage on the lot was used for filming over the weekend, meaning that the finger of suspicion initially pointed towards a fault with one of its electrical appliances.
Frank Garrido, the LA County fire inspector, told a press conference that the Universal Studios theme park, a well known tourist attraction on the site, had also lost its King Kong exhibit, in which a giant ape bellows at tram passengers. Three firefighters were reported injured.
Universal, which is owned by General Electric, has seen the production of hundreds of Hollywood's most iconic films during its long history, including When Harry Met Sally, ET, and Jaws. Steven Spielberg also houses his production company Amblin Entertainment on the site.
AP footage of the fire
- 1 Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
- 2 JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
- 3 The West has it totally wrong on Lee Kuan Yew
- 4 #FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
- 5 Jeremy Clarkson calls on trolls to leave producer Oisin Tymon alone: 'None of this is his fault'
Germanwings crash: Police make 'significant discovery' at home of co-pilot Andreas Lubitz
Andreas Lubitz: Who is Germanwings co-pilot who 'locked out captain and crashed flight 9525'?
#FreeTheNipple: Women in Iceland bare breasts in solidarity with trolled student
Russia unveils plans for high speed railway and superhighway to connect Europe and America
Cate Blanchett loses temper during interview: 'That's your f**king question?'
Nigel Farage brands LGBT activists 'filth' and 'scum' and accuses them of scaring away his children after they invade his local pub
Ukip supporters are 55 or older, white and socially conservative, finds British Social Attitudes Report
JK Rowling responds to fan tweeting she 'can't see' Dumbledore being gay
Russia threatens Denmark with nuclear weapons if it tries to join Nato defence shield
Jeremy Clarkson sacked live: Alan Yentob 'wouldn't rule out' ex Top Gear host's BBC return
Germanwings plane crash live: Andreas Guenter Lubitz intentionally crashed flight 9525 into the Alps in act of mass murder and suicide – latest
£20000 - £22000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: An exciting opportunity has ari...
£20000 - £25000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This is a fantastic opportunity...
£25000 - £30000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: Well established and expanding ...
£14000 - £20000 per annum: Recruitment Genius: This leading Key Cutting equipm...