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Blaze Destroys Sections of Universal Studios


It was a dramatic fire. Yesterday, Universal Studios saw its theme park and studio in Hollywood go up in flames. And this morning, authorities are still trying to determine what caused the fire that destroyed a large part of that complex. From Los Angeles, Nova Safo has more.

NOVA SAFO: The fire tore through areas of the Universal Studios lot, which are both working sets and popular tourist attractions. It destroyed the courthouse square from the "Back to the Future" films, mock street sets, and the sound stage housing the King Kong theme park attraction.

MICHAEL FREEMAN: We had, essentially, two city blocks on fire at the same time.

SAFO: Los Angeles County Fire Chief Michael Freeman said the fire was fueled by highly flammable building materials. Making matters worse, firefighters were having trouble getting enough water pressure and were drawing water from ponds on the studio lot.

FREEMAN: They also laid hose lines off of the property to tie into other city mains to actually do what we call relay pumping, where one engine pumps to the next to the next.

SAFO: As firefighters were still putting out the blaze, Universal Studios president and chief operating officer Ron Meyer stood in front of cameras and answered a question on everyone's mind.

RON MEYER: The video library was affected and damaged, but our main vault of our motion- picture negatives was not.

SAFO: Meyer said the studio had duplicates of all the thousands of videos that were destroyed, so they can be replaced. The studio has also had to replace its street sets before, after an arson fire in 1990. Its rebuilt facades had been outfitted with a series of water pipes designed to drown a fire. In the days ahead, inspectors will be looking into why those safety features failed. For NPR News, I'm Nova Safo in Los Angeles. Transcript provided by NPR, Copyright NPR.

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Nova Safo