6.01.2008

FIRE AT UNIVERSAL


In case you haven't seen the news already, there was a horrible fire at Universal Studios early this morning. They're still fighting it as of 10am this morning.

I was hiking in Runyon this morning and there was an huge plume of black smoke rising from looked like a very particular, singular source. It clearly wasn't a forest fire, or anything in the hills. As I got to the top of Runyon, this is pretty much what I saw:

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We obviously weren't that close to it in Runyon, but that's exactly what it looked like, and probably still looks like. So when Mychela and I got back down to our car, we turned on 1070 AM on the radio and listened to the reports.

Apparently the fire started at about 4:40am on the New York Street on the back lot. They still don't know what caused the fire -- or they're not releasing that information. And what's been lost are:

New York Street
New England Street
Courthouse Square (this is the Back to the Future set & clock tower)
the Universal Video Vault
the King Kong attraction
a sound stage

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I still can't believe that these things are gone. Especially the Back to the Future set. I think for most people who were growing up in the 80's, or film fans, that set is pretty iconic. I can't believe it's gone.

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Even though we don't know yet what started the fire, those buildings were wooden facades, a lot of them stemming back to the 1930's and 40's. And they're saying that the fire fighting prevention measures they installed in the sets after a big fire in the 90's was overcome by the incredibly fast growth of the fire itself.

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The good news is that the Video Vault losses can all be replaced, and this storage facility has no connection to the Film Vault or any of Universal's archival prints. This fire will also not affect Land of the Lost, the Will Ferrell movie shooting on the lot (which they say is the most expensive movie production to be shot on the lot). But I do believe that this will affect Ghost Whisperer, which does shoot at Universal.

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Apparently the fire involved some explosions as the fire reached some explosive substances/materials. These explosives substances are what are believed to have propelled the fire at such a quick a rate in connection with all of the wood on the lot. They're saying that a third of square mile has burned, and three fire fighters have been injured. Most of the smoke that we're seeing is coming from the Video Vault, which is what they're fighting right now:

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But, amazingly, they still plan to open the park at noon today. But I'm not sure who would want to go as the fire has burned paint and all kind of props and things that, I'm sure, reek like hell.

But they're still fighting the fire now at 10:30am. Hopefully they contain it soon and there isn't any more damage.

ps. A little shout out to a film that meant a lot to a very young Adam:

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