June 01, 2008

Fire at Universal


Picture: Reuters


A three alarm fire is currently blazing on Universal Studios back lot.

One injury to a fireman has been reported, assumed to be smoke related. The blaze had destroyed several film sets, including mock-ups of New York and New England streets.

Los Angeles County fire inspector Daryl Jacobs said at least one building had burned down, and as many as three blocks of film sets were consumed by flames. There was at least one explosion.

Over 200 firefighters are working to ensure the flames don't spread to nearby brush, but are having some problems with water pressure. Two firefighting helicopters are dropping water onto the burning structures.

Universal Studios spokesman Elliot Sekuler said the theme park would open today, though the studio tour sites and other attractions, such as the King Kong ride, have been damaged by the blaze. **EDIT** Visitors who had waited for hours outside the park gates were turned away after officials decided not to open the area.

Filming was taking place where the fire broke out near sunrise, no further details were offered.

The MTV movie awards, hosted by Mike Myers, will broadcast live from Universal’s Gibson Amphitheater today at 5 p.m. PT without any interruptions expected from the now under control blaze.

This time around, thousands of videos chronicling Universal's movie and TV shows were destroyed in the blaze. But Universal officials said that they were thankful no one was seriously injured at the theme park and that the damaged footage can be replaced.

"We have duplicates of everything," said Ron Meyer, NBC Universal president and chief operating officer. "Nothing is lost forever." Meyer estimated there were 40,000 to 50,000 videos and reels in a video vault that burned but said duplicates were stored in a different location. Firefighters managed to recover hundreds of titles.

The videos included film that Universal has produced and footage from television series including Miami Vice and I Love Lucy.


Update 1 @ 8:59am
Update 2 @ 9:38am
Update 3 @ 10:07am
Update 4@9:03pm