By Karen Brooks
AUSTIN, Tex, Sept 28 - Fire caused by an apparent lightning strike destroyed the set of the 2004 Disney remake of "The Alamo," officials told Reuters on Wednesday.
Of about a dozen major structures on the movie set, nine were charred after the fire broke out amid storms, gusty winds and lightning that moved through the area on Tuesday evening, said Justin Musgraves of the Texas Forest Service.
The official cause of the fire is under investigation, but a lightning strike to the dilapidated set is the "working theory," Musgraves told Reuters.
The 200-acre fire in western Travis County, on the outskirts of Austin, was about 75 percent contained by Wednesday morning, Musgraves said. Several dozen fire trucks responded, as well as nine bulldozers and more than 100 personnel.
No injuries were reported, and no homes were evacuated, he said.
"The production of 'The Alamo' was a major milestone in the development and seasoning of the Texas film community in the early 2000s," said Evan E. Fitzmaurice, director of the Texas Film Commission. "These sets were a sight to behold, and this is unfortunately another example of how dangerous and unpredictable the wildfires continue to be in Texas."
Based on the 1836 standoff between Texas forces led by Jim Bowie and Davy Crockett, and Mexican troops led by Santa Anna in San Antonio, the 2004 remake of the 1960 John Wayne classic was widely considered to be among the most historically accurate of Hollywood films about the Alamo.
With more than 70 structures dotting what used to be a hay field, the 51-acre movie set was the largest and most expensive free-standing set of any in North America at the time and employed thousands of extras. Some 300 crew members, most of them Texans, spent eight months building the $10 million set.
Directed by John Lee Hancock, the movie starred Dennis Quaid, Billy Bob Thornton and Jason Patric. It grossed more than $22 million worldwide, but that was far short if its costs. It took seven months to film and cost $90 million.
All but abandoned in the years since the move was released, the set had deteriorated, but was still an unofficial tourist spot for visitors to Milton Reimers Ranch Park, where the set is located.
(Editing by Jerry Norton and Greg McCune)