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Unfinished Housing Tract to Be Torched for Movie

Part of an abandoned, half-built housing tract in Lancaster will be burned to film the climax of the forthcoming movie, “Lethal Weapon III,” under an agreement announced Wednesday.

Officials with the federal Resolution Trust Corp., which acquired the rotting remains of the Legends tract from a failed savings and loan, said that Warner Bros. has agreed to pay a $25,000 fee and to later demolish any houses used in the filming.

The movie makers plan to use about a dozen of the tract’s 54 structures to film the fire scene in the Mel Gibson-Danny Glover movie, due for release in the spring. The movie has been in production in the Los Angeles area since October, and filming in Lancaster is set for mid-January.

The RTC required Warner Bros. to demolish any houses used for the movie because the fire itself will not do the job. To get a controlled burn suitable for filming--and refilming--the movie’s crews plan to insulate the houses so that they will not burn down.

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The film’s makers spotted the locale as being ideal for their script, which calls for a fire at a remote construction site. But long negotiations with the RTC produced results only this month after U.S. Sen. John Seymour (R-Calif.) and the Economic Development Corp. of Los Angeles County interceded.

For Lancaster residents, the deal means that part of an ugly community eyesore soon will be gone. The partly built houses have sat unattended since 1989, when the RTC first seized and later liquidated the project’s lender, Pennsylvania-based Hill Financial Savings Assn.

City officials in Lancaster also are pleased with the agreement. The city has a bid pending to buy the entire 40-acre site from the RTC. The RTC estimated that Warner Bros.’ demolition of about a fourth of the houses will save the buyer about $150,000.


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