• musclemecca does not sell or endorse any bodybuilding gear or products.
    Musclemecca has no affiliation with advertisers; they simply purchase advertising space here. If you have questions go to their site and ask them directly.
    Advertisers are responsible for the content in their forums.

3-Alarm Fire breaks out on Universal Studios

Big VIC

Big VIC

Mecca V.I.P.
VIP
Joined
May 20, 2007
Messages
5,530
Points
38
Low water pressure hampers fight against Universal Studios fire
Gary Friedman / Los Angeles Times
Fire engulfs the Universal Studios back lot.
A soundstage and several sets are lost as billowing smoke raises health concerns. The theme park remains closed today.
By Bettina Boxall, and Ari Bloomekatz and Molly Hennessy-Fiske, Los Angeles Times Staff Writers
6:04 PM PDT, June 1, 2008
» Discuss Article (87 Comments)

Low water pressure hampered efforts today to fight a fire that raged through the Universal Studios back lot in Universal City, destroying a soundstage, the theme park's King Kong attraction and film sets such as the Courthouse Square seen in "Back to the Future" and the New York streetscape from "Bruce Almighty."

As the equivalent of two city blocks burned -- firefighters were still dousing embers 13 hours after the blaze began in the predawn darkness -- a mushroom-like cloud of smoke drifted over surrounding neighborhoods, raising health concerns.



* Universal Studios fire
Photos: Universal Studios fire
* Universal back lot as Everywhere, U.S.A.
Photos: Universal back lot as Everywhere, U.S.A.

* Map: Universal Studios fire
* Fire's effect on productions will be negligible, Universal says
* What burned in the Universal fire

A large explosion near a video storage building about 2:45 p.m. left a firefighter and sheriff's deputy with minor injuries when they were knocked off their feet, officials said. Eight other firefighters were hurt earlier, none seriously.

The cause of the fire was unknown. The theme park and Universal Citywalk will not reopen until 10 a.m. Monday.

Los Angeles County Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, whose district includes Universal City, said fire officials told him that unusually low water pressure had made the fight more difficult.

"They said the water was coming out of the hoses anemically," he said. "The water pressure is not what it should have been. It's enough of a wake-up call that we need to take another look."

Yaroslavsky said he has asked County Fire Chief P. Michael Freeman to conduct an inquiry, and suggested that other major studios make sure their water systems can handle big fires.

Freeman said Universal had installed a large-scale sprinkler system after a 1990 blaze, but it didn't seem to work adequately today. Firefighters pulled water from ponds and lakes on the back lot and strung hoses hundreds of yards to hydrants outside the park. They also brought in a 6,000-gallon water tender.

"It appears the fire this morning overwhelmed fire protection features," Freeman said. "We're going to readily and quickly reevaluate that and see if that had any impact on the water pressure."

Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge said he also heard about the water-pressure problems.

"If this was a neighborhood, they would have had a higher requirement for water pressure," he said this morning, standing outside the studio gates. "That's a big issue."

Los Angeles Department of Water and Power officials said the agency supplies Universal, but the park operates its own water system. DWP spokesman Joe Ramallo said the agency tried to boost water pressure there for firefighters after being alerted about 80 minutes after the fire broke out at 4:45 a.m., but it "had a negligible effect."

"We can only make changes on our system," he said, referring to the hydrant system. "And we had no loss of supply from our end."

DWP equipment has been upgraded to keep pressure high for firefighting in nearby Griffith Park and parts of the Hollywood Hills, Ramallo added.

Universal spokespersons declined to comment on the water situation.

Meanwhile, air quality officials were called to Universal to test for hazards, and a county fire spokesman said initial readings were not alarming.

One known air-pollution risk from the motion-picture industry is perchloroethylene, otherwise known as "perc." The substance, which has been linked in studies to cancer, was widely used for cleaning film until the Air Quality Management District adopted a regulation to limit its use and replace it with less toxic cleansers. AQMD spokesman Sam Atwood said any treated lumber that burned could produce harmful emission, because it often contains arsenic. "Arsenic is highly toxic," he said.

Richard Drury, an Alameda environmental attorney, said cheap plastics used at most industrial locations were also a worry.

But Drury said it was important not to overstate the risks, noting that short-term exposure to carcinogens, for instance, might not pose a threat: "One-time exposure is probably not that significant."

Ben Neumann, who lives near the southern edge of the studio, said he was "immediately concerned about the smoke. ... It smelled like they were burning plastic or Styrofoam."

Eric Chapman said ash drifted over his home on Hillock Drive, near the eastern edge of Universal. Chapman said he had assumed the clatter of helicopters at 5:30 a.m. was from a film shoot.

"When I saw the flames . . . I realized it wasn't just a movie," he said.



* Universal Studios fire
Photos: Universal Studios fire
* Universal back lot as Everywhere, U.S.A.
Photos: Universal back lot as Everywhere, U.S.A.

* Map: Universal Studios fire
* Fire's effect on productions will be negligible, Universal says
* What burned in the Universal fire

At least 300 firefighters battled the blaze, including with water-dropping helicopters. The flames tore through the cavernous two-story video vault containing copies of television shows and movies, some dating to the 1920s. At one point, firefighters hastily removed canisters from the building by hand, but Universal officials said the archives were copies and no original works had been lost.

A spectacular 1990 blaze ravaged more than four acres of the back lot, destroying many of the same sets that burned this time. It also burned the "Dick Tracy" building and the "Ben-Hur" set.

The giant column of smoke from today's fire could be seen for miles. Officials said the fire was able to spread so fast in part because the studio sets were made of timber.

"Big lumber causes a big fire," said county Fire Inspector Daryl Jacobs, noting that some of the soundstages date to the 1930s and '40s.

County Fire Capt. Mike Brown said small explosions heard early in the fire were caused by fuel tanks.

LaBonge said it was depressing to see part of Hollywood history go up in flames.

"It's very sad," he said. "Ever since the movies came to Hollywood, there have been studio fires. And this is a big one."

"It's like a movie set, a disaster film," he added.

The MTV Movie Awards is scheduled to be broadcast live today from the Gibson Amphitheater at Universal, with such stars as Will Smith, Robert Downey Jr. and Edward Norton slated to attend.

Times staff writers Amanda Covarrubias and Janet Wilson contributed to this report.
 
alex

alex

Mecca V.I.P.
VIP
Joined
Jul 14, 2006
Messages
912
Points
18
saw that yesterday on the news.it was a huge fire and it showed the roof collapsing.scary stuff,
 
Top