UNIVERSAL CITY, CALIF., NOV. 6 -- A fire raced through Universal Studios tonight, burning down street sets where movies and television shows are filmed and forcing an evacuation of the studio and its amusement park.
Witnesses said the blaze, fanned by gusty winds, overran the sprawling back lot of the 420-acre studio located 10 miles northwest of downtown Los Angeles. The futuristic town square built for the filming of "Back to the Future, Part II" was among the areas burned, officials said.
About 200 people, most of them studio and amusement park employees, were evacuated.
Flames were reported at 7:18 p.m. and one ambulance was dispatched to the scene. There were no immediate reports of injuries, said police Sgt. Richard Thomas. The fire's cause was being investigated.
"From our vantage point the fire is burning in the center of the studio where our major facades are located," said Joan Bullard, president of public relations at Universal.
The fire raged in a "sound stage area" to the rear of the studio lot, said Fire Department spokesman Pat Marek. At least 24 engines were sent to the blaze.
A cloud of smoke hovered over the back lot where fake buildings used as background for filming are constructed.
The facades burning included streets sets where the studio films its New York street scenes, and Sting Street where the famous Paul Newman and Robert Redford film was shot.
The studio features a seven-hour tour attraction, which includes a guided tram tour that takes viewers through film sets and a simulated earthquake.
"The tour will be affected, but we have no information on how at this time," Bullard said.