'Last night, a fire developed around Cinecitta Studios, exclusively affecting a peripheral part of the back lot where sets are constructed in open air,' the famed studio's Friday statement read.
'The fire originated inside a tent of about 250 square meters and was most likely due to a short circuit. It immediately extended to a part of the sets of Ancient Rome,' the statement refers to the HBO/BBC mini series Rome, which camped out on Cinecitta back lots for two years. That production wrapped at the end of 2006.
Italian media reports claim fifteen fire trucks were needed to put out the 40-meter flames, which spread to blaze through a 3,000-meter back lot area. Other than the HBO/BBC series Rome, the area houses historic relics from films by Federico Fellini and the 1959 mega-Hollywood production Ben Hur. Latter film assisted in coining Cinecitta's nickname of 'Hollywood on the Tiber.'
But the press statement emphasized, 'The damage does not in any way impede the normal activity or reduce the competitive or productive activity of the studio Fire crews were able to rapidly isolate the fire, keeping it from spreading to the rest of the sets.'
Cinecitta CEO Lamberto Mancini told ScreenDaily.com that 'the fire affected just a small corner of the 'Rome' sets,' and confirmed that the situation was under control.
Maurizio Sperandini, deputy general manager of the studios, confirmed that the original press reports were 'understandably exaggerated due to the confusion of the event.'
Recently, major directors have scouted Cinecitta, which celebrated its 70th anniversary this year, as potential home to upcoming productions including Roman Polanski for his colossal Robert Harris Pompeii adaptation and Ron Howard for Da Vinci Code follow up Angels and Demons.
Recent productions to spend time at Cinecitta include Abel Ferrara's Go-Go Tales, Francois Girard's Silk, Catherine Hardwicke's Nativity and Mel Gibson's The Passion of the Christ, among others.