A water ride that caught on fire at Universal Orlando’s Islands of Adventure will remain closed for several weeks to repair the damage and undergo seasonal maintenance, officials said Sunday.
Universal spokesman Tom Schroder said fire officials are working to identify and correct the cause of the fire that started in the roof of Dudley Do-Right’s Ripsaw Falls on Saturday and forced its evacuation.
The maintenance for the ride was originally scheduled for later this month. Schroder did not say when the park plans on reopening the attraction.
The smoky, two-alarm fire erupted on the roof of an area through which cars that look like logs carry passengers, said Orlando Deputy Fire Chief Greg Hoggatt. It grew quickly.
“That type of material puts out a lot of black smoke,” he said.
Forty firefighters, including some from Orange County Fire Rescue, were called to the scene. The fire was tamed in about half an hour and extinguished in an hour, Hoggatt said. A few guests were checked at the park first-aid room, but none required hospitalization. No damage estimates were available, Schroder said.
A park guest, Anthony Rosa, said he was in the Harry Potter area when he saw smoke from across the lake in the center of the park. A moment later, he smelled burning plastic.
A large crowd began walking across a bridge and away from Ripsaw Falls, Rosa said. The number of those evacuated was not immediately available, but Schroder said dozens of people were in the area.
Rosa said he wouldn’t go back to the ride immediately even if it reopened.
“It’s a bit concerning,” he said. “I’d definitely be second-guessing it the whole time.”
Investigators are considering an electrical problem from components such as air conditioners or ride controllers, or an accident, Hoggatt said.
Susan Gartner, a chaperone with the marching band from Wamego High School in Kansas, said she was eating when she saw black smoke rise out of Toon Lagoon. She began trying to contact other chaperones and students, who said they saw flames shooting out of the ride.
“Thank goodness” they were OK, Gartner said of the students.
Schroder would not say what compensation might be available to park patrons who were forced to get off the ride.
“In a situation like this, we would always work with our guests and do what is right,” he said. “We’re happy to work with our guests and make them feel that they’re accommodated.”
Toon Lagoon, where the water ride is located, reopened about 90 minutes after fire and dark, billowing smoke closed it shortly after 5 p.m. Saturday, officials said. Toon Lagoon also is home to Popeye and Bluto’s Bilge-Rat Barges.