Joint L. A. County-City Forces Control $2 Million Goldwyn Studios Blaze

Joint L. A. County-City Forces Control $2 Million Goldwyn Studios Blaze

Looking west at gutted Stage 8, Samuel Goldwyn Studios in West Hollywood. Note prop storage at west of stage and proximity of mill at north and two additional stages at east end—all undamaged. Ziv TV Studios are across street to west (top) of photo

—Aerial photo from helicopter by L. A. County F. D.

QUICK AND DECISIVE ACTION by combined units of Los Angeles County and City Fire Departments prevented massive loss at Samuel Goldwyn Studios in West Hollywood July 2.

Stage 8, said to be the world’s second largest sound stage, was completely destroyed in the early morning blaze.

Andy Buuk, a studio guard, discovered the fire shortly after 4 a.m. and pulled an ADT box, transmitting the alarm to ADT and directly to nearby County Station 8. The station received the alarm at 4:11 a.m. At approximately the same time, a newsboy rang the front door alarm bell, reporting the same fire.

Engines 8, 208, Ladder 8 and Rescue 8 of the L.A. County Fire Department responded directly to the studio—a prime target hazard less than a mile away—and Captain Nino Polito of Engine 8 immediately radioed for a third alarm.

Engine 8 laid a 2 1/2-inch line in and another 2 1/2-inch out, while Engine 208 stretched a 3 1/2-inch. One 2 1/2-inch went to a hand line and the other to the monitor off Engine 208. The 3 1/2-inch line was split, one line being readied for use on the Ladder 8 ladder pipe.

At 4:13 a.m., L.A. City was notified of a fire at Goldwyn. A small portion of the southern half of the studio is in the city and a full first-alarm assignment of three engines, two ladders and a fully manned salvage company responded.

City first-in Engine 41 located approximately three-quarters of a mile from the fire, arrived just ahead of the County’s second-in Engine 7, taking a hydrant and laying straight in. Engine 7 under Captain Bill Insley, did the same.

Captain Polito reported that the 400 x 200 x 70-foot stage was completely involved. Immediate attention was given to protecting all exposures, which included the studio mill, power houses, two stages and prop storage next to the involved stage.

In addition, other exposures included numerous sound stages of Ziv TV across a street to the west.

Firemen made no attempt to enter the burning studio because of the danger of the walls collapsing, but heavy appliances, including deluge sets, monitors, and the ladder pipe on County Ladder 8 were brought into play.

County Battalion 1 commander, Sam Tanksley, reported that a good water supply aided the fight. Sixteen lines were laid in to the fire with batteries on City Engines 82 and 27 brought into play, plus the monitor of County Engine 208 and the ladder pipe. The latter was later shut down.

Studio Fire Chief M. N. Ouellet reported the stops made by the fire crews were excellent, pointing out that the prop storage adjacent to the west side of the stage was saved.

Ladder company personnel laddered the two stages on the east and the Ziv stages to the west.

By 8 a.m., Assistant Chief C. A. Tingley was withdrawing city crews, leaving county units under Assistant Chief William Weyant to overhaul throughout the day.

Complete response included County Engines 8, 208, 7, 14, 209, 32, 38; Ladder 8 and Rescue 8. L. A. City response included Engines 41, 51, 52, 27, 61, 82; Ladders 27, 29, 61 and Salvage 27.

A complication developed in the fact that several regularly scheduled county move-up companies were out of service, operating on a foundry fire in the same battalion. However, other units filling in for them moved up to cover. The County also fought a three-alarm fire in a series of buildings in the Artesia area necessitating some juggling of move-up units.

Damage was estimated at more than $2,000,000. Completely destroyed were sets and props for “Porgy and Bess” which was ready to shoot.

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