California fire threatens Tippi Hedren animal sanctuary and destroys film set

A fire that is sweeping through the Santa Clarita valley in California has destroyed a set used to shoot films including Robin Hood: Men in Tights, Maverick and Bells of Coronado.

It has also forced workers at the Shambala Preserve, an animal sanctuary founded by Tippi Hedren, to evacuate most of its animals, according to the Hollywood Reporter.

The Sand Fire, which has expanded to 51 square miles and burned down at least 18 homes, was only 10% contained as of late Sunday night. The Los Angeles County sheriff’s department is investigating the death of a man who was thought to be caught in the blaze.

Derek Hunt, owner of the Sable Ranch film set, said the fire came down the hillside towards the site “like a freight train”. “Unfortunately you can only do so much when it is a horrific fire storm,” he told NBC Los Angeles. “At some point you know you’re defeated and you have to step back and save what you can.”

Hedren, who famously shared her family home with a lion when her daughter, Melanie Griffith, was a teenager, founded the Shambala Preserve in 1972. It’s home to several species of endangered big cats, including African lions, leopards and a Bengal tiger. Griffith tweeted her concern about Hedren and her livestock early on Sunday morning. She subsequently expressed her relief that her mother and the big cats were safe.

More than 1,600 firefighters continue to battle the blaze. They are struggling to contain a fire that some are calling the most extreme they have seen in decades.

“The fire’s just doing what it wants right now,” said US Forest Service spokesman Nathan Judy. “We have to stick back, let it do what it wants to and attack it where we can.”

Powered by article was written by Henry Barnes and agencies, for The Guardian on Monday 25th July 2016 11.05 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010