Fire tears through replica movie sets

Published August 26, 2006 12:13 am

Heritage: Buildings are an homage to the early Wild West films made in the area around Kanab in Kane County
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Replicas of several historic movie sets near Kanab were destroyed in a fire Friday, and authorities were investigating to see if the blaze was intentionally set.

A wooden-frame saloon, mercantile store and post office, as well as another building, caught fire about 3 p.m. and burned to the ground, said Bureau of Land Management spokesman Larry Crutchfield.

The replica sets, about 40 miles east of Kanab off U.S. 89 in Kane County, were erected by Kane County residents in 2000, near the original Paria Movie Set. The buildings were look-alikes of the ones originally built there in the early 1960s for the production of "Sergeants 3," a Dean Martin/Frank Sinatra "Rat Pack" Western.

"The rebuilding of the set was a community effort, and [the fire] hurts the whole community," Crutchfield said.

A visitor driving to the set Friday afternoon told authorities he saw a tan, early '70s or late '80s, extended cab truck driving away from the set just before he got there and saw the fire.

The driver of the truck appeared to be a man, and there was also a passenger, Crutchfield said.

The original movie set is a touchstone to Kanab's Wild West film heritage. More than 200 movies have been filmed in the Kanab area, including "Deadwood Coach," in 1924, starring silent screen cowboy Tom Mix. The saloon and mercantile buildings also were featured in Clint Eastwood's "The Outlaw Josey Wales."

Friday's fire coincided with the annual Western Legends festival in Kane County.

The Kane County Sheriff's Office was investigating Friday.