The Woolsey Fire relentlessly blazed through the legendary Paramount Ranch on November 9th, leaving significant damage to the set of Westworld. The 2,700-acre ranch nestled in the Santa Monica Mountains was the house to numerous large-scale sets built amongst the rustic Southern California valleys, canyons, and foothills. Since the 1920s, countless Hollywood television and film productions conveniently utilized the space so they didn’t have to actually travel to, for example, Kansas or even 13th-century China.

The “Western Town” set was decked out with a wooden-built main street, an old saloon, a sheriff’s station, an old-fashioned jail, and a train station that was missing a track. The iconic set was used for television series like Dr. Quinn, Medicine Woman, Gunsmoke, M*A*S*H, and the Mentalist as well as HBO’s Carnivale, the romantic drama The Lake House, and the 1941 film Caught in the Draft starring Bob Hope. Most recently, the ranch served as the film location for season three of the Youtube Premium show Escape the Night.

Sadly, the National Park Service announced that the old town burned to ashes on Friday.

“We do not have any details or photos, but it is our understanding that the structures have burned. This area is an active part of the incident and we cannot access it,” the park service’s Santa Monica Mountains National Recreation Area shared on Twitter. It’s reported that the church which was built for the popular HBO show Westworld is still standing at Paramount Ranch.

Over the decades, the ranch changed ownership several times. But filmmaking at the location remained consistent, and new sets gradually replaced old ones. In 1980, the park service purchased a portion of the property, revitalized it, and hosted public events within the venue. The ranch served as a popular tourist site where visitors could also explore the many hiking trails in the surrounding wilderness.

Unfortunately, a seven-year drought coupled with Red Flag conditions took its toll on the beloved set.

The wind-driven Woolsey fire has scorched over 83,000 acres of Los Angeles and Ventura counties since starting on the afternoon of Thursday, November 8. On Friday morning, powerful winds gusting 40 to 50 mph pushed flames and embers south across the 101 freeway at Liberty Canyon Road in Agoura. “The fire was burning like a torch or flame thrower across the freeway,” KTLA’s Eric Spillman reported. “There were people on the freeway doing U-turns and driving back the way they came from, in darkness with smoke all the way around them. It was just remarkable.”

Presently, the Woolsey fire has consumed over 175 structures between the valley and the beaches. Approximately 170,000 Los Angeles County residents remain under mandatory evacuation as of Sunday, November 11. With Santa Ana winds creating Red Flag warnings through Monday–some forecasted to blow over 40 mph–there’s no end in sight to the foreboding flames. Indeed, the fire is currently only 10-percent contained.

Los Angeles Fire Chief Daryl Osby said, “Our firefighters have been facing some extreme, tough fire conditions that they’ve said they’ve never seen in their lives.”

The afflicted areas thus far include Thousand Oaks, Oak Park, Westlake Village, Agoura Hills, West Hills, Simi Valley, Chatsworth, Bell Canyon, Hidden Hills, Malibu, and Calabasas. Paramount Ranch is near Agoura Hills between Malibu and the Conejo Valley, located at 2903 Cornell Road in unincorporated Los Angeles County.

Los Angeles County Sheriff Chief John Benedict urged the at-risk residents who’d not yet evacuated to “leave immediately.” And speaking to those who’d already vacated the area but who were tempted to return, he said, “We ask people: Do not go back to those areas. Quite frankly, it’s still not safe.”

The cause of the fire is currently under investigation.

 

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