Large Fire Devours California Movie Sets, King Kong Attraction

By | June 2, 2008

A large fire raged on a back lot at Universal Studios on Sunday, devouring several movie sets and the theme park’s King Kong attraction, officials said.

The King Kong exhibit is a stop on the studio’s tram tour where the giant ape bellows at passengers and artificial banana scent fills the area, studio spokesman Eliot Sekuler said.

Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Daryl Jacobs said at least one building had burned and as many as three blocks of movie facades were destroyed.

Two mock New York and New England streets used for movie making and tourist displays were “a total loss,” he said.

Though the fire was contained, it was still raging, Jacobs said.

The blaze broke out just before dawn on a sound stage at the 400-acre (160-hectare) property, fire Capt. Frank Reynoso said. There was at least one explosion.

A thick column of smoke rose thousands of feet into the air and for a time helicopters swept in to drop water.

More than 100 firefighters were trying to prevent the flames from spreading to nearby brush, Reynoso said. One firefighter was hospitalized for unspecified injuries.

Sekuler said the theme park would open Sunday, though the studio tour would not go to the King Kong part of the attraction. He said a commercial shoot was going on when the fire broke out. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Universal Studios is located nine miles north of downtown Los Angeles that has thrill rides and a back lot where movies and television shows are filmed.

Some of the more familiar attractions on the back lot are the clock tower from the “Back To The Future” movies and the house featured in “Psycho.”

Scenes from several blockbuster films and television shows have been filmed at the studios, including “War of the Worlds,” “When Harry met Sally” and “Scrubs.”

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