Page last updated at 01:03 GMT, Monday, 2 June 2008 02:03 UK

Blaze ravages Universal Studios


The fire raged for several hours before being contained

Firefighters have contained a large fire which ravaged a theme park at the world-famous Universal Studios in Los Angeles, California.

At least 300 firefighters fought the blaze, which injured three people, after it began before dawn on a sound stage featuring New York facades.

The fire destroyed a King Kong exhibit and a set from Back to the Future.

It also damaged a video library but the studios said they had duplicates of everything lost.

They contained the fire that could've really burnt horribly out of control
Ron Meyer
Universal Studios

A propane fuel tank explosion may have caused the fire, but investigations into the cause of the blaze are continuing.

There are indications that the sound stage in the area had recently been used for filming.

It is likely that there would have been a good deal of flammable material and props, as well as fuel supplies, on the site, the BBC's Rajesh Mirchandani reports from Los Angeles.

'Real heroes'

Helicopters dropped water on to the burning structures, and television pictures showed flames leaping into the air as a thick cloud of smoke covered the site.

Helicopter flies into the smoke of the Universal Studios fire

Thick black smoke that billowed into the Los Angeles sky was partly due to the plastic video containers burning, said Los Angeles fire department chief Michael Freeman.

Low water pressure hampered the fire crews' efforts, according to the LA Times.

The head of Universal Studios, Ron Meyer, said about 40,000 to 50,000 videos and reels had been damaged in the blaze but duplicates were kept elsewhere.

He thanked the firefighters for their efforts.

"They are real heroes, I mean they were here in record time," he said.

"They contained the fire that could've really burnt horribly out of control."

Behind-the-scenes tours of the studios are a long-established tradition still popular with visitors today.

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