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June 01 2008

Universal Studios On Fire. This is an ongoing story. Please click on "refresh" or consult other sources for updates. There has been extensive damage to the area near Universal's Vehicle Collection (The Serenity "Mule" is there).

Hope they get the fire under control soon, with no one hurt.

Maybe the Serenity mule will have that worked-in look, like the Firefly mule after "War Stories".
How do you know the fire is near the vehicles (not that they should be at all a priority and I am kind of embarrassed that your link is stated this way), TDBrown? The back lot is huge.

I hope they get it under control and no one is hurt.
Universal Studios fire under control Last Updated: Sunday, June 1, 2008 | 1:36 PM ET

Three firefighters went to hospital with minor injuries.

Universal president Ron Meyer praised the Los Angeles and Burbank fire departments.

"They are real heroes, they contained a fire which could have burned horribly out of control We were very lucky today."

At a news conference, officials said the fire began in a video library and firefighters were able to rescue hundreds and hundreds of video canisters. An estimated 40,000 to 50,000 videos and reels were damaged.

The fire did not affect a film vault, which contains archival footage.

King Kong exhibit is destroyed.

two locations for TV series were affected

three blocks of movie facades as well as the set of the Michael J. Fox movie Back to the Future have been destroyed.

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

[ edited by Anonymous1 on 2008-06-01 18:54 ]
:( How horrible, I wonder how it started. Hopefully no one is hurt.
I could be wrong but I suspect that the original post is worded that way so it doesn't get deleted for being off-topic for this website...

...I totally agree though, when I read about it that wasn't my first concern by a long shot
Goodness, this is so sad! There is a lot of history at that place.

I hope this doesn't affect the Can't Stop the Serenity prints.
Well, I think the studio behind Serenity merits its connection to our site. We have, after all, discussed the condition of the architecture of the Frank Lloyd Wright building used in Buffy, for instance. Of course, this is just my opinion.

In any case, very early reports linked a propane gas tank explosion as a possible cause of the fire -- but that was very early this morning, and the report was unconfirmed by anyone. Just tossing that out.
I think the headline works quite well just with 'Universal Studios On Fire'.
I literally live across the street from Universal Studios, and the fire engine sirens and helicopters have been going full force since 6 a.m.

Such a tragic loss that the fire was able to spread and do so much damage. Maybe the fire got such a foothold because it began so early on a Sunday morning, when probably the least amount of people will be on the property.

We have an awesome fire department here, and I hope that the fire fighters who were injured recover fast and fully.

As to the Serenity hover mule, I thought I read somewhere on the boards that it had been dismantled a while ago? I knew it had been languishing outside on the lot for a while, but then the FX department finally took it apart for it's materials. A gorram shame if you ask me...
Thank you Simon.
The mule was very much still there in December - I have video footage - I read reports before that that it'd been dismantled also so no idea where they came from
Fire officials say they have concerns about the malfunction of internal sprinklers

My apologies to all. I had a post deleted yesterday due to a perceived "lack of relevancy". The Mule was supposedly on exhibit in Universal's Backlot, so I worded the lead "for relevancy".

Once again, my apologies. Any fire is a horrible thing (I've experienced both a house fire and a forest fire), so my thoughts and prayers go out to everyone involved and affected by the events.
Sorry TDBrown - sometimes rules can get a bit out of hand. Nothing personal! I think we've all had something redone or deleted.
Oh, no! There is so much history there, movies and television shows alike.

Several years ago I was staying with my cousin in Chino Hills, and we went to Universal. At the time Quantum Leap was still on the air, and our tram took us through a little "town" decorated with red, white & blue bunting. The guide said it was going to be used in an upcoming episode of QL. After the ride, I went up and asked if there was any chance of me meeting Scott Bakula & Dean Stockwell, and he said that if I could wait until he went on lunch he'd take me backstage to meet them. Unfortunately, we had somewhere else to be. Drat! (The episode ended up being the first of the new season, "The Leap Back," set in Crown Point, Indiana. One of my favorite episodes, and not just because "I was there.")

I got to see the Bates Motel, came close to Jaws, parted the "Red Sea" and had many other wonderful experiences.

85 years of film and television have come from those studios, from the classic horror movies of the Wolfman, Dracula and the Mummy, to the Sherlock Holmes series starring Basil Rathbone and Nigel Bruce, from the Claude Rains classic Phantom of the Opera to ET: The Extra-Terrestrial. TV shows included the aforementioned "Quantum Leap," "Major Dad," "Murder, She Wrote," and the Law & Order family, under the NBC Universal umbrella. Universal has also made deals to co-finance and/or distribute films with small companies, like Imagine Entertainment, Amblin Entertainment and Morgan Creek Productions.
I was at Universal Studios a couple of years ago, and it's a tragedy the King Kong part of the tour was destroyed. I remember being there, including the growling and the banana scent. A lot of important Hollywood history going up in flames is still a big loss, but I hope they can recover from this.
The smoke is still visible over in Hollywood. While exhibits and sets can be rebuilt, knowing that history was lost hurts.
Fortunate that it happened in the early morning hours on a Sunday, as opposed to a busy afternoon. While it's sad that it sounds like quite a bit of history was destroyed, you have to be thankful that (so far) only minor injuries have been sustained.
Actually, according to this article, everything is backed up:
"We have duplicates of everything," said NBC Universal President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer. "Nothing is lost forever."

New word on Deadline Hollywood Daily that Universal Music may have lost some very significant master recordings in the fire :(
My heart just broke when I flicked on the news and saw the Universal backlot on fire. There's no telling what we lost there. Thank God no one was hurt!

I wish to give condolence towards Universal for their loss and pray for their recovery.
I live not far from the studio and worked for Universal for a couple of years before I was lured to Warner Bros. Fires are a fact of life in a studio. The facades are made of wood and the older they get, the more dangerous it becomes. The sound stages are padded with mattress padding so if a fire starts inside, an entire stage can be engulfed in flames in 12 minutes flat.

At Warner Bros., the street called Kings Row (named for the film it was originally built for but you may recognize it from the shows "Sisters," and "Gilmore Girls") burned down years ago was was rebuilt to look almost exactly the same.

This is not Universal's first fire. They are heavily insured (most likely they insure themselves the was Warner Bros. does), and much like after the last fire, the back lot will be rebuilt (especially since they use the NY streets and the town square regularly for TV and film).

The damage done to the King Kong exhibit is sad but not the end of the world. The fact that the only injuries are few and minor is a true blessing. Thank goodness it happened on a Sunday Morning and not when the lot and the tours are in full swing or this could have been a complete horror.

As for the mule - I have seen no mention that any of the studio's vehicles have been damaged or destroyed. I am sure as the week continues, there will be more complete information about what was destroyed and what was not.

[ edited by TartFuel on 2008-06-02 00:40 ]
:-( I haven't been on the backlot in a while, but I have very fond memories of my visits. Thank G'd no one was hurt,though...
Oh my, this is actually really upsetting to me. I live in SoCal and have been going to Universal since I was a little kid and remember these sets from my childhood, both on screen and in person. The courthouse square saddens me the most.

I know that there was a fire there many years ago, but I don't think it was nearly this bad.
I understand from a friend who lives directly downwind of the fire that the fire has made the air outside is pretty bad -- she has asthma and said just going to the lawn to pick up the paper triggered a choking fit. So (if you're in this area to begin with) if you can avoid going into the Valley northwest of Universal until the smoke clears, this may be wise. I share the relief of everyone here that the fire broke out when there were relatively few people on the lot and that no lives have been lost.
That's so sad about the loss of the original music recordings. As a historian, I'm always saddened by the irretrievable loss of any of our cultural archives.

I am, of course, heartened by the relatively minor injuries. But even those and the loss of those things that can be rebuilt is sad. My thoughts are with all involved.
Damn. Just damn.

I'm glad that people weren't seriously injured, and sad about the loss of history.
I'm very glad that there were no serious injuries as well, and also that most of what was near the fire was undamaged, or can be rebuilt or's a shame that a lot of areas were damaged so badly, but I'm first of all glad no one was seriously injured.

Do we know as of yet which shows were affected by the damage at the lots?
I heard on the news that some of the mock streets that were destroyed were currently in use on "Ghost Whisperer" and "House" and had previously been seen on "Seinfeld" and "NYPD Blue."

I am glad that there were no serious injuries, but I'll never be able to enjoy the phrase "Save the Clock Tower" like I used to. :-)
The courthouse from Back to the Future (currently redressed for Ghost Whisperer), which was slightly damaged but not destroyed in the fire, was used in the BtVS episode "Becoming part 1" as Henery High, so there's your Whedon tie-in.

One might also point out that the Little Europe and Spartacus Square areas of the backlot were used in the Angel episode "The Girl In Question."
The courthouse and surrounds have actually already been damaged in previous fires (1997 was the last.) It's sad, I had some good times wandering around the Universal back lot and hope they rebuild bigger and better than before.

Studio President Ron Meyer has stated that nothing irreplaceable has been lost. (It's doubtful that there will ever be another studio debacle to rival the BBC losing the early Dr Who episodes!)

The media are reporting that 10 firefighters have been injured. There is also some speculation that water pressure was a problem, with water even having to be pumped in from the Jaws pond.

And even with all this, there are tourists lined up outside whining because they can't get in the gates. I mean, really!?!
(It's doubtful that there will ever be another studio debacle to rival the BBC losing the early Dr Who episodes!)

Where by 'losing' you mean 'wilfully destroying through bureaucracy gone mad' and let's hope not ;).

It's a shame about the sets etc. but the important thing is no-one was seriously hurt, could've been a lot worse. Good work by the fire-fighters too, sterling effort.
Woot's getting into the poking fun, including taking a stab at us Browncoats, similar to the Hijinks Ensue folks.
Thanks QuoterGal. Since it's been established that no one was seriously hurt, that was priceless. :)

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