A 4-alarm fire at Tyler Perry's studios in Atlanta, Georgia, burned incessantly Tuesday night into early Wednesday as more than 100 local firefighters were called to battle the blaze.
One building at the multi-million dollar, 200,000-square -foot studio was damaged, but the cause is not known. [UPDATE: An official says the fire will be recorded as "undetermined." The blaze's intensity consumed evidence of its cause.]
Perry, who Forbes ranked entertainment's highest paid man last year when he received an estimated $130 million in pay, released a statement through a publicist:
Atlanta firefighters responded immediately to a fire which damaged the backlot façade of one of the buildings at Tyler Perry Studios in Atlanta. We are grateful that there were no injuries, and that 99 percent of the damage is limited to the backlot facade. Mr. Perry wishes to express his heartfelt thanks to the Atlanta fire department for their professionalism in their quick response and limiting the damage.
Celebrity friends of Perry have taken to Twitter to show support, including Kerry Washington and Oprah Winfrey:
— Oprah Winfrey (@Oprah) May 2, 2012
[RELATED: Tyler Perry photos, filmography, more]
Perry was seen speaking with Fire Chief Kelvin Cochran at the scene but did not speak with reporters. Tyler Perry Studio employees who were there said they were instructed not to speak with reporters. (Security at the studios is known to be extremely tight and employees sign confidentiality agreements.)
A local witness said the flames reached nearly six stories high: "Whatever the fire was hitting, was blowing up. There were plenty of sparks coming over here where we are," Dorothy Ware told the Atlanta Journal-Constitution.
Firefighters remained on the scene until the early morning putting out hot spots and assessing damage.
Perry's lot, which cost several million dollars to build, sits on dozens of acres, housing a theater, several film production facilities, and even boasts a chapel and a five-acre pond. Tyler Perry Studios has produced films including "For Colored Girls" (2010) and "Good Deeds," to be released this year.
Perry's studio is not the only one in film to suffer fire damage: Universal Studios has put out eight fires on its back lot over the years. The most damage was done during a 2008 fire which set ablaze structures including the King Kong attraction and destroyed thousands of digital film copies of works including "Knocked Up," "Law & Order," and "I Love Lucy."