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Fire breaks out at Universal Studios

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A massive fire has destroyed a set from “Back to the Future,” the King Kong exhibit and a video vault at Universal Studios, officials said.

The blaze broke out on a backlot sound stage, among New York brownstone facades, around 4:30 a.m. Sunday at the 400-acre property, said Los Angeles County Fire Chief Michael Freeman. The fire has been contained.

In the early morning hours, firefighting helicopters swept in for drops and cranes dumped thousands of gallons of water on flames. More than 100 firefighters worked to ensure the flames didn’t spread to nearby brush.



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.”




NBC Universal President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer said 40,000 to 50,000 videos and reels were damaged in the video vault, but there are duplicates in a different location.

“Nothing is lost forever,” Meyer said of the videos, which included every film that Universal has produced and episodic television series’ like “Miami Vice” and “I Love Lucy.”

Freeman added that hundreds of those titles had been recovered by firefighters who carried boxes of video out of the vault area.

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

Meyer said the park would open at noon Sunday, and on a typical weekend day about 25,000 people visit the theme park.


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