Massive fire consumes soundstage at Universal

UNIVERSAL CITY <--7th lead--> A fire has been reported on a backlot at Universal City. The flames are now contained to that lot.

The blaze erupted just before 5 a.m. Sunday. Four firefighters were injured--one reportedly due to smoke exhaustion. Although, it was initially reported that the cause was smoke inhalation.

There have been various reports as to the cause of the blaze, but currently, nothing has been confirmed. According to early reports, however, the event began as a result of a film shoot on the lot.

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Fire inspector Darryl Jacobs said that firefighters did encounter some explosions from flammable materials such as propane tanks upon their arrival.

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Nearly 400 fire personnel were on the scene to combat the flames.

According to firefighters, the following structures have been damaged and/or destroyed:

  • New York Street
  • Courthouse Square
  • King Kong structure
  • Universal's video vault (which is still burning)

    The King Kong structure reportedly caught fire from the roof and compromised several of the surrounding structures.

    Is it a case of déjà vu?

    Roughly 18 years ago, a fire--not unlike the current Universal blaze--broke out on a lot belonging to the venerable studio.

    During that event, Santa Ana winds were instrumental in the overwhelming damage done to the New York Street facades. These sets appeared in films like 'Back to the Future' and 'Ben Hur.'

    That particular blaze was ruled as arson.

    There is still no news as to the cause of this most recent event at Universal. However, the 1990 blaze resulted in over $50 million in damage, and required a major undertaking to rebuild each of the sets.

    Estimates are that damage from the current blaze will run in the tens of millions of dollars. Now the question remains: Will the park be open for business after Sunday?


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    This story was reported with the assistance of the Associated Press and City News Service.

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