Page last updated at 09:34 GMT, Tuesday, 3 June 2008 10:34 UK

Blowtorch caused Hollywood fire

Smoke rises from the Universal Studios site, 1 June 2008
It took several hours for firefighters to quell the flames on Sunday

The huge fire which swept Universal Studios in Hollywood on Sunday was started accidentally by workers using a blowtorch, investigators say.

The roof of a film set on which they had been working had ignited while they were taking a break, a senior fire official in Los Angeles said.

The fire tore through sets at the 400-acre (160ha) site, also damaging a library of videos and film reels.

At its height, more than 400 firefighters fought the blaze.

Several were injured as they struggled to bring it under control.

Universal Studios re-opened on Monday, attracting hundreds of visitors.

Poor water pressure

Los Angeles County fire chief Michael Freeman said the three workers had been fixing the roof of a building facade.


Fire Chief Michael Freeman speaking at a news conference

He said they had been using a blowtorch to heat asphalt singles to apply to the roof early on Sunday.

They finished the work at about 0300 local time (1100 GMT), and then stood watch for one hour - a standard policy - before leaving for a break.

A fire on a streetscape featuring New York facades was spotted by a security guard about 45 minutes later.

Meanwhile, a team of investigators is also looking at the poor water pressure in fire hydrants which hampered early efforts to control the flames.

Destroyed sets

Parts of the movie studio's theme re-opened on Monday, attracting hundreds of visitors.

On the studios' first tram tour of the day, damage from the fire was clearly evident and the smell of smoke hung in the air.

A guide thanked firefighters for their work in battling the flames.

A King Kong exhibit and sets from the films Back to the Future and Bruce Almighty were among the attractions destroyed.

However, the head of Universal Studios, Ron Meyer, said the studios had duplicates of everything lost in the video library, and that the main vault containing motion picture negatives had not been affected.

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

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