(FROM THE LOS ANGELES TIMES) A fire the size of two city blocks erupted on the Universal Studios lot in Los Angeles early Sunday morning, destroying historic sets and valuable movie memorabilia. The blaze, which started before dawn and was battled through the morning by more than 300 firefighters and water-dropping helicopters, consumed a soundstage and the lot's legendary New England, New York, and King Kong streets, including the famous courthouse square from Back to the Future. Also in peril was an immense video vault containing rare television footage dating as far back as the 1920s.
Nonetheless, the adjacent Universal CityWalk and Universal Studios amusement park, which are visited by some 25,000 people on a typical weekend day, were expected to be open to the public on Sunday from noon to 6 p.m. Additionally, the MTV Movie Awards were still expected to be broadcast from the large suburban complex known as Universal City on Sunday, as planned.
Officials were still determining the cause of the blaze, which may have started on a set and raged out of control in Los Angeles' risky dry climate. In recent years, wildfires have become a relatively common sight in the area of the Universal lot, which is just on the other side of the Hollywood hills from Hollywood, nine miles north of downtown Los Angeles. (Los Angeles Times)