Sunday, June 01, 2008

A Universal Fire!

Fire broke out early Sunday morning on the back lot at Universal Studios in Universal City, CA destroying a portion of the New York City street and damaged a vault storing archival video. The 2008 MTV Movie Awards were scheduled to take place at the Universal Amphitheater later on this afternoon and, because that area of the lot was unaffected by the fire, will go on as planned. Here are a few photos of the fire that raged this morning:

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. 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. 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.

It's pretty remarkable, the smoke from this fire could be seen from almost all parts of Los Angeles. I don't live that far from Universal Studios, so the smoke was especially thick around here. Thus far there have been no reports of causalities and it's heartening to know that nothing irreplaceable from the video vault was lost. It's sad that King Kong and the Back to the Future courthouse were destroyed tho :( [Source]