Cause of Universal Studios fire unknown

<div class="meta image-caption"><div class="origin-logo origin-image kabc"><span>KABC</span></div><span class="caption-text">The gigantic fire destroyed sound stages and parts of the popular backlot tour, June 1, 2008.  (KABC-TV)</span></div>
June 2, 2008 12:00:00 AM PDT
Fire authorities are still unsure what caused a fire that tore through a backlot at Universal Studios early Sunday, destroying a set from "Back to the Future," the King Kong exhibit and thousands of videos and reels in a vault. Fire crews spent the night at the theme park to keep watch overnight. Along with the cause of the fire, authorities are also trying to figure out why the water pressure wasn't as strong as fire crews thought that it should have been. It may have hampered their efforts early in the fire fight.

The blaze broke out on a sound stage at the theme park in a set featuring New York brownstones facades around 4:30 a.m. Sunday at the 400-acre property, Los Angeles County Fire Dept. Chief Michael Freeman said.

After fighting flames for nearly 18 hours, firefighters were able to knock down the fire around 11 p.m. Several explosions slowed firefighters' efforts, and two two personnel on the ground were injured in the blasts. Authorities said there may have been propane tanks inside one of the buildings that was burning.

In total, 10 personnel were moderately injured in the blaze. Four of the firefighters from the L.A. County Fire Dept., and five others from L.A. City Fire Dept., were injured, according to L.A. County Fire Inspector Ron Haralson. One L.A. County Sheriff's deputy was also injured.

The fire started on New York Street and rapidly burned building facades and spread to Courthouse Square, which was featured in "Back to the Future".

The building that housed the King Kong exhibit was a total loss.

Roughly 40,000 to 50,000 videos and reels were in the video vault, but there are duplicates stored in a different location, said Ron Meyer, NBC Universal president and chief operating officer. Firefighters managed to recover hundreds of those titles from the vault.

The damage estimates are expected to be in the millions.


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