Huge Fire Ravages the Universal Studios Backlot!
California always experiences an increased number of fires every year, but one has recently struck an important part of Hollywood. A fire broke out at Universal Studios early this morning during a film shoot and is currently still raging through the studio's backlot. The blaze was first reported at 4:45AM in a sound stage where it expanded rapidly, destroying one sound stage and several other buildings within 30 minutes. At 6:45AM, over 200 firefighters and 2 helicopters were called in to help fight the blaze in an effort to protect the film vault. Numerous buildings and park attractions have been either damaged or destroyed by the fire so far. As of this time of the morning, the fire is currently still being fought by firefighters and is still burning its way through the backlot.
According to reports, the fire quickly spread to the studio's famous New York City streetscape as well as the King Kong exhibit, which is expected to be a total loss. Besides numerous soundstages and buildings, apparently the Cyclone ride and three movie sets have been damaged as well. Thankfully no injuries have been reported, however this is incredibly tragic for Universal Studios, as much of their backlot has been entirely destroyed by the fire. Another report says that a third of the film vault was in flames, but we haven't heard any reports yet on whether any films were lost or not. Universal has a great number of films in their archive and it would be immensely tragic to have any of them lost!
We'll update you on any developments as they arrive, as the fire is still currently burning as of 8:30AM. You can see a live video feed of the fire over on KNBC.com. A similar fire destroyed part of Universal Studios back in 1990 and there have been five other previous big fires in the studio's history. We are not sure yet what films were shooting on the lot when the fire broke out, but we'll update you once we hear more. Stay tuned as this tragic story develops!
Update: Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge reports from the scene, saying "Firefighters are handing out the film cannisters. It's very sad. Ever since the movies came to Hollywood, there have been studio fires. And this is a big one." You can see a photo below of the damage from one of the live video streams. There is only one building still currently on fire, but you can see all the destroyed buildings in the upper right corner.
Update #2: An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 videos and reels in a video vault were destroyed in the fire, but duplicates were stored in a different location, so nothing essential was lost. Additionally, the iconic courthouse square from Back to the Future was entirely destroyed and the famous clock tower was damaged. New York and New England streets were also completely destroyed. The exhibit with the mechanical King Kong as part of the tram ride was also entirely destroyed. You can read more in this update on Yahoo.