Large fire devours movie sets at Universal Studios

LOS ANGELES (AP) — A fire at Universal Studios has destroyed a set from "Back to the Future," the King Kong exhibit and a video vault containing more than 40,000 videos and reels.

Los Angeles County fire Captain Frank Reynoso says the blaze broke out just before dawn Sunday on a backlot stage at the 400-acre property. The fire has been contained.

Officials say the iconic courthouse square from "Back to the Future," has been destroyed, and the famous clocktower that enabled star Michael J. Fox's character to time travel has been damaged.

NBC Universal President and Chief Operating Officer Ron Meyer says 40,000 to 50,000 videos and reels were damaged in the video vault, but there are duplicates in a different location.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP's earlier story is below.

UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. (AP) — A large fire raged on a back lot at Universal Studios on Sunday, devouring several movie sets and the theme park's King Kong attraction, officials said.

The King Kong exhibit is a stop on the studio's tram tour where the giant ape bellows at passengers and artificial banana scent fills the area, studio spokesman Eliot Sekuler said.

Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Daryl Jacobs said at least one building had burned and as many as three blocks of movie facades were destroyed.

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

Though the fire was contained, it was still raging, Jacobs said.

The blaze broke out just before dawn on a sound stage at the 400-acre property, fire Capt. Frank Reynoso said. There was at least one explosion.

A thick column of smoke rose thousands of feet into the air and for a time helicopters swept in to drop water.

More than 100 firefighters were trying to prevent the flames from spreading to nearby brush, Reynoso said. One firefighter was hospitalized for unspecified injuries.

Sekuler said the theme park would open Sunday, though the studio tour would not go to the King Kong part of the attraction. He said a commercial shoot was going on when the fire broke out. The cause of the fire is under investigation.

Universal Studios is located nine miles north of downtown Los Angeles that has thrill rides and a back lot where movies and television shows are filmed.

Some of the more familiar attractions on the back lot are the clock tower from the "Back To The Future" movies and the house featured in "Psycho."

Scenes from several blockbuster films and television shows have been filmed at the studios, including "War of the Worlds," "When Harry met Sally" and "Scrubs."