Fire destroys buildings at Universal Studios in LA

Mon Jun 2, 2008 7:13am EDT
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By Sue Zeidler

LOS ANGELES (Reuters) - A fire roared through part of Universal Studios film and TV studio on Sunday, damaging well-known movie sets and a popular "King Kong" attraction before being brought largely under control after 12 hours, fire officials said.

Universal, one of the world's six major film studios, had to close its popular theme park for the day because of the fire but it did not interfere with Sunday's taping of the popular MTV Movie Awards at the adjacent Gibson Amphitheater.

About 500 firefighters from several Los Angeles-area fire departments battled the blaze, which caused no fatalities but injured nine firefighters and a deputy sheriff, said Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Ron Haralson.

By late afternoon he said the backlot fire was contained to a single structure -- the "King Kong" exhibit -- as firefighters used bulldozers to move burning videotapes and other flaming debris.

The blaze destroyed about five structures within a faux New York set used in various movies and television shows, including one sound stage. Also damaged was the "King Kong" attraction, an alley from "The Sting" and a set from "Back to the Future."

Sunday's fire burned some of the same back-lot areas destroyed by a blaze in 1990, which whipped through the New York Street and a set used for "Ben Hur." It took years to rebuild at an estimated cost of $50 million.

Universal is operated by NBC Universal Inc., which is 80 percent owned by General Electric Co and 20 percent by French communications and utility company Vivendi.

Universal said it would resume its normal business hours Monday at 10 a.m., when all rides and attractions, including the studio tour, would be operating.   Continued...

<p>A fire truck and firefighters are seen at Gate 2 of Universal Studios as smoke rises (background) from a fire that rages out of control at the backlot filled with movie sets in Universal City, California, June 1, 2008. REUTERS/Fred Prouser</p>