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Fire at Universal destroys sets, landmark backlot locations

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Fire at Universal destroys sets, landmark backlot locations

Old 06-01-08, 03:12 PM
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Fire at Universal destroys sets, landmark backlot locations

I think the saddest loss for a lot of us will be Universal's iconic "Courthouse Square" exterior, made famous by "Back to the Future" and so many other movies.

From CNN:

LOS ANGELES, California (CNN) -- A fast-moving blaze Sunday on the back lot of Universal Studios destroyed several movie sets and damaged a video vault before firefighters contained it.

The fire destroyed buildings and movie sets at Universal Studios on Sunday.

Three firefighters suffered minor injuries, fire officials said. No other injuries were reported.

The fire destroyed an area called New York street, which includes movie-set buildings designed to look like the New York cityscape.

Hours after the blaze started, the area looked charred and resembled a "disaster movie," said Los Angeles Councilman Tom LaBonge. Video Watch choppers try to douse the fire

LaBonge said he could see the smoke from his home Sunday morning.

"I looked out my window at the Hollywood Hills, and it looked like a bomb had exploded," he said.

Despite the massive blaze at the Southern California site, which includes an amusement park, officials still planned to hold the 2008 MTV Movie Awards there later Sunday.

The awards show was scheduled to be broadcast live from an amphitheater at the park Sunday afternoon, an MTV representative said.

"The areas we are utilizing for our production were unaffected, and the 2008 MTV Movie Awards will go on as planned," an MTV spokesman said in a statement. "We're working closely with authorities to make sure everything operates smoothly."

More than 400 Los Angeles-area firefighters were called to battle the fire on the back lot, adjacent to the theme park. The blaze began around 4:45 a.m. PT (7:45 a.m. ET).

At a news conference Sunday morning, fire officials said the blaze was contained.

Still, large plumes of smoke rose from the blaze that continued to burn at a video vault. Between 40,000 to 50,000 videos and reels were damaged, but there are duplicates stored at a different location, according to The Associated Press.

"Fortunately, nothing irreplaceable was lost," said Ron Meyer, CEO of Universal Studios. "The video library was affected and damaged, but our main vault of our motion picture negatives was not."

The set where the movie "The Changeling," directed by Clint Eastwood and starring Angelina Jolie, was recently shot was "completely destroyed," Meyer said.

Another movie set called the "Courthouse Square" was destroyed, Meyer said. Numerous movies have been shot in the area, including scenes from the 1985 hit "Back to the Future," Meyer said.

The "King Kong" exhibit also was destroyed, fire officials said.
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Fire inspectors had not determined what caused the blaze, said Los Angeles County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman.

The park is just north of downtown Los Angeles.
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Old 06-01-08, 03:18 PM
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I ran a search for "Universal" but nothing came up, but I see there's a thread in Other. Mods can do what they want with this thread, but I'm leaving it so people in the Movies forum see it since it's about, well, a movie studio.
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Old 06-01-08, 03:22 PM
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save the clock tower!
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Old 06-01-08, 03:39 PM
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Its all over the news...damn.
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Old 06-01-08, 03:44 PM
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Looks like God hates the MTV movie Awards as much as I do.
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Old 06-01-08, 03:52 PM
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LOS ANGELES - A large fire tore through a back lot at Universal Studios early Sunday, destroying a set from "Back to the Future," the King Kong exhibit and thousands of videos and reels in a vault.
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The blaze broke out on a sound stage at the theme park in a set featuring New York brownstones facades around 4:30 a.m. at the 400-acre property, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Michael Freeman said. The fire was contained to the lot but still burning several hours later.

Roughly 40,000 to 50,000 videos and reels were in the video vault, but there are duplicates stored in a different location, said Ron Meyer, NBC Universal president and chief operating officer. Firefighters managed to recover hundreds of those titles from the vault.

"Nothing is lost forever," Meyer said.

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

The iconic courthouse square from "Back to the Future" was also destroyed, Freeman said, and the famous clock tower that enabled Michael J. Fox's character to travel through time was damaged.

Two mock New York and New England streets used both for movie-making and as tourist displays were a total loss, said Darryl Jacobs, Los Angeles County fire inspector.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, and no initial damage estimates were given.

The park reopened at noon Sunday. On a typical weekend day about 25,000 people visit Universal Studios.

However, studio tram tours planned to avoid the King Kong attraction, a favorite stop where the ape bellows at passengers and an artificial banana scent fills the air, said Universal Studios spokesman Eliot Sekuler.

Hundreds of visitors waited outside the park gates Sunday morning, where acrid smoke lingered, providing an eerie backdrop. Fire officials didn't believe air quality would pose a health hazard to the public.

Mike Herrick of San Diego watched the fire on television from his hotel before deciding to return to Universal Studios for a second day with his wife.

"By gosh, we're going to go and get whatever we can out of it," Herrick said. On Saturday, Herrick had ridden the tram that winds around the studio lot, snapping photos of the King Kong attraction, among other sights.

The fire will not affect the 2008 MTV Movie Awards, which is to be broadcast live Sunday night from the Gibson Amphitheatre in Universal City, according to the music network.

The fire broke out along New York Street, where firefighting helicopters swept in for drops and cranes dumped thousands of gallons of water on flames in the early morning. More than 100 firefighters worked to ensure the flames didn't spread to nearby brush.

At least one building had burned and as many as three blocks of movie facades were destroyed, Jacobs said. A thick column of smoke rose thousands of feet into the air.

At one point the blaze was two city blocks wide, and low water pressure forced firefighters to get reserves from lakes and ponds on the property. Three firefighters suffered minor injuries.

"The water pressure situation was a challenge," Freeman said. "This fire moved extremely fast."

Universal Studio, nine miles north of downtown Los Angeles, has thrill rides and a back lot where movies and television shows are filmed, including scenes from "War of the Worlds," "When Harry Met Sally" and "Scrubs."

A commercial shoot was going on when the fire broke out, Sekuler said.

A major fire erupted at Universal Studios in November 1990, destroying sets for several TV and movie productions, including "Dick Tracy" and "The Sting" and causing $25 million in damage. A security guard was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to starting the blaze.
4 Years? Thats IT?!?
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Old 06-01-08, 04:27 PM
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Man this sucks!

What was in the King Kong exhibit is it items from the 1976 Remake?

If so I am very sad I love that movie and the work of Rick Baker.
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Old 06-01-08, 07:22 PM
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It's part of the tram ride. the trams go through a city street and then come across a giant animatronic kong shaking shit around. It was very dated and the fire at least gives Universal an excuse to update it.

the same area has been involved in numerous fires before. the clock tower survived but everything around it is pretty much burned. Effected will be the show Ghost Whisper as that was the main filming location.

There was a vault that went up, but it didn't have anything that wasn't able to be replaced or duplicated somewhere else.
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Old 06-01-08, 10:45 PM
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Originally Posted by GizmoDVD
4 Years? Thats IT?!?
No one was killed, only a few minor injuries. The property is just that: property. I think four years of jail is sufficient.
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Old 06-01-08, 10:59 PM
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Originally Posted by Suprmallet
No one was killed, only a few minor injuries. The property is just that: property. I think four years of jail is sufficient.
I disagree.

When you start a fire it is reasonable to assume that someone (or several people) may be seriously injured or killed. The reckless disregard for lives and the safety of others warrants a longer sentence. In that case they were just lucky that no one was more seriously injured or killed. Just because they were lucky doesn't negate the intent to cause great damage and the reckless disregard to the lives of those in the area.
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Old 06-01-08, 11:30 PM
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Originally Posted by chris_sc77
Looks like God hates the MTV movie Awards as much as I do.
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Old 06-02-08, 02:49 AM
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Originally Posted by Suprmallet
No one was killed, only a few minor injuries. The property is just that: property. I think four years of jail is sufficient.
However, there was significant potential for someone to be killed, and it was $25 million worth of property.
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Old 06-02-08, 03:31 AM
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Originally Posted by riotinmyskull
save the clock tower!
I'm glad nobody was killed, but I am majorly bummed the clock tower is no more.
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Old 06-02-08, 06:57 AM
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Originally Posted by UAIOE
I'm glad nobody was killed, but I am majorly bummed the clock tower is no more.
Originally Posted by Jackskeleton
It's part of the tram ride. the trams go through a city street and then come across a giant animatronic kong shaking shit around. It was very dated and the fire at least gives Universal an excuse to update it.

the same area has been involved in numerous fires before. the clock tower survived but everything around it is pretty much burned. Effected will be the show Ghost Whisper as that was the main filming location.

There was a vault that went up, but it didn't have anything that wasn't able to be replaced or duplicated somewhere else.
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Old 06-02-08, 08:12 AM
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Originally Posted by GizmoDVD
4 Years? Thats IT?!?
I'm glad you decided to quote the entire story so you could bold the final sentence.
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Old 06-02-08, 11:33 AM
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They better update the King Kong exhibit, that was one of my favorite parts of the tram tour. This is a real shame. I hope they're able to get things back to looking somewhat normal.
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Old 06-03-08, 04:47 PM
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The clocktower was saved?
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Old 06-03-08, 05:17 PM
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Originally Posted by UAIOE
The clocktower was saved?
They got enough donations. haha
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Old 06-03-08, 05:20 PM
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Clocktower's gone. Luckily, it's not the original one. The real clock tower was removed years ago and safely stored elsewhere on the lot.
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Old 06-03-08, 05:47 PM
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I went on a tram tour years ago and I'm pretty sure this was Universal. They have the tram stop and they simulate rain and a flood, right?
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Old 06-03-08, 07:07 PM
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Originally Posted by The Bus
I went on a tram tour years ago and I'm pretty sure this was Universal. They have the tram stop and they simulate rain and a flood, right?
Yup.
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Old 06-03-08, 11:23 PM
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wow, this sucks. Glad I visited it all last summer i guess. The Clock Tower was the highlight of the tour
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Old 06-04-08, 04:02 PM
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Originally Posted by The Valeyard
Clocktower's gone. Luckily, it's not the original one. The real clock tower was removed years ago and safely stored elsewhere on the lot.
Our donation dollars at work!
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Old 06-04-08, 04:13 PM
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Originally Posted by The Valeyard
Clocktower's gone. Luckily, it's not the original one. The real clock tower was removed years ago and safely stored elsewhere on the lot.
I knew Mayor Goldie Wilson would have some sort of contingency plan.
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Old 06-04-08, 06:34 PM
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The culprit behind the fire has identified himself.
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