UNIVERSAL CITY, Calif. King Kong's roar was silenced, and Marty McFly won't be going back to the future anytime soon.
A huge fire raged through a lot at Universal Studios on Sunday and destroyed some of Hollywood's most familiar backdrops, including the courthouse square from "Back to the Future" and a streetscape featured in "Bruce Almighty," "Spider-Man 2" and "Transformers."
It was the second fire at the historic site in nearly two decades, leveling facades, hollowing out buildings and creating the kind of catastrophe filmmakers relish re-creating. This time around, thousands of videos chronicling Universal's movies and TV shows were destroyed in the blaze.
But Universal officials said that they were thankful no one was seriously injured at the theme park and that the damaged footage can be replaced.
"We have duplicates of everything," said Ron Meyer, NBC Universal president and chief operating officer. "Nothing is lost forever."
Universal officials didn't immediately say what their plans would be for the site.
The blaze broke out on a sound stage featuring New York brownstone facades around 4:30 a.m. at the 400-acre property, Los Angeles County Fire Chief Michael Freeman said. The fire was contained to the lot but burned for more than 12 hours before the final flames were extinguished.
The cause of the fire is under investigation. Damage was expected to be in the millions of dollars.
The iconic courthouse square from "Back to the Future" was destroyed, and the famous clock tower that enabled Michael J. Fox's Marty McFly character to travel through time was damaged, fire officials said. Two mock New York and New England streets used both for movie-making and as tourist displays were a total loss, Los Angeles County Fire Inspector Darryl Jacobs said.
An exhibit housing a mechanically animated King Kong that bellows at visitors on a tram also was destroyed.
Hundreds of visitors who waited for hours outside the park gates were turned away after officials decided not to open the area Sunday afternoon. On a typical weekend day, about 25,000 people visit Universal Studios. NBC Universal said it would reopen the theme park this morning.
Universal CityWalk, a shopping promenade, was also closed. The MTV Movie Awards, broadcasting live Sunday night from the adjacent Gibson Amphitheater, went on as planned.
Mike Herrick of San Diego watched the fire on television from his hotel Sunday afternoon before deciding to return to Universal Studios for a second day with his wife.
"By gosh, we're going to go and get whatever we can out of it," Herrick said. On Saturday, Herrick rode the tram that winds around the studio lot, snapping photos of the King Kong attraction, among other sights.
The fire broke out along New York Street, where firefighting helicopters swept in for drops and cranes dumped water on the flames. A thick column of smoke rose thousands of feet into the air and could be seen for miles.
"It looked like a disaster film," said Los Angeles City Councilman Tom LaBonge.
At one point the blaze was two city blocks wide, and low water pressure forced firefighters to get reserves from lakes and ponds on the property. Several firefighters suffered minor injuries.
One firefighter and a Los Angeles County sheriff's deputy were slightly hurt when a pressurized cylinder exploded inside the building housing the videos.
The streetscape that burned recently served as a backdrop in such films as "Bruce Almighty" and television shows including "Monk," "Crossing Jordan" and "House," said NBC Universal spokeswoman Cindy Gardner.
Meyer estimated there were 40,000 to 50,000 videos and reels in a video vault that burned but said duplicates were stored in a different location. Firefighters managed to recover hundreds of titles.
The videos included every film that Universal has produced and footage from television series including "Miami Vice" and "I Love Lucy."
Universal Studios, nine miles north of downtown Los Angeles, has thrill rides and a back lot where movies and television shows are filmed, including scenes from "War of the Worlds," "When Harry Met Sally" and "Scrubs."
Another fire at Universal in November 1990 caused $25 million in damage and was started by a security guard, who was sentenced to four years in prison after pleading guilty to arson.