Ever since the big fire at Universal Studios back in 2008, the site of a fire truck on the lot has attracted a great deal of attention. Well, today there was a lot more than a fire truck there. It was an all hands on deck fire truck parade.
I was at Universal Studios today when suddenly a seemingly endless train of fire trucks began driving right through the upper lot and toward the western portion of the lot. There were Universal Studios’ own fire trucks as well as Burbank and Los Angeles Fire Department trucks on hand.
Once in place, the park closed off the entire west side of the upper lot from guest traffic. It didn't much difference considering there are no longer any attractions on that side of the park anyway.
I made my way out the front gates to try and get a better look from outside the park. There were trucks at the top of the drive outside the Frankenstein parking garage which sits below the former Terminator 2: 3D stage and just inside the side gates in front of that stage.
I stood by the front gates, at least 50 yards from the nearest fire truck and a good 150 yards from where anything was actually happening. Still Universal did NOT want me getting a view of what was happening so they sent employee after employee over to try and scare me away.
As I said, I was standing right outside the front gates where there were several other park guests nearby either at the Annual Pass window or making their way in and out of the park. The only difference being, I was actually stopped and interested in what was happening. And that was apparently a real issue for them.
Soon, an actual police officer came over to me and threatened to arrest me if I didn’t move back. He, like everyone else, would not give me any indication of exactly how far back to remove myself. Just “out of the area” with a wave of his hand and of course saying “You know, I’m a cop, right? I can arrest you for being here”.
Wishing to pick my battles, I went off in the direction he waved his hand which was away from the action. They then set up a barrier not 15 feet behind where I was standing – not coincidentally it was only where there was no visibility of trucks or what they were doing. It was no more out of the way than I had been in the first place.
I then positioned myself inside the already existing barriers which separate the gates and the annual pass window, and everything else. They tried to scare me away from there as well until I said I was a member of the media. Then suddenly I needed to show them my credentials to be allowed to stand where anyone in the general public with a park ticket would be allowed to stand without having to show any ID to do it.
Then a gentleman came over to pretend to be accommodating. It became obvious he was simply trying to comply with that whole “freedom of the press” thing. He asked me if I had any questions. I was a little surprised by this. I assumed based on the threats and shroud of secrecy, there would be no questions answered.
I said, “Ok, what happened? Is it a fire?” to which he responded “We have no comment at this time.” And promptly walked away. That was cute. Asking me if I have any questions just so he can give me the brush off.
I dug around and eventually figured out it was a fire inside the former Terminator 2: 3D stage. The long running show closed on December 31 and they are hard at work renovating it into what is reportedly a new “Despicable Me” attraction.
Exact details on the what started the fire are unclear but it was no small deal. It was a two alarm blaze that started inside the stage at around 1:15pm. The blaze was eventually contained and extinguished with no damage to surrounding structures.
Most of the firefighters were exiting and heading to their trucks by around 4pm. Disaster averted.
So, at least we can say the fire department handled things professionally.