We'd love to say this is a BTS set piece from the upcoming Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom where all the engineered dinos ignite in flames and go rampaging around suburban streets as flaming ferocities... but it isn't.
This was actually the incendiary scene at the Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience museum in Colorado Thursday, when an unexpected electrical fire caused their prized T-rex statue to go up in flames. For those plagued with nightmares of colossal prehistoric creatures belching fire and smoke, watching the AP video below might be a traumatic experience. For the rest of us pyromaniacs, it's a glorious, but slightly sad, sight to behold!
The titanic tragedy happened on Thursday during normal business hours at the popular tourist destination and interactive science museum in Canon City. It's home to over a dozen life-size, animatronic dinosaurs that are normally docile and devoid of roaring red flames. The inferno caught on tape was short-lived but spectacular, with artificial skin peeling off the steel frame of the proud Thunder Lizard prop.
Owner Zach Reynolds was doing insurance paperwork at his desk Thursday morning when an urgent call came over the radio announcing that they had a dinosaur on fire.
"Well, when I got the news I grabbed a fire extinguisher and ran outside," Reynolds told SYFY WIRE via telephone. "Our staff responded extremely well and were already clearing the guests out of the area and into a safe place. At that point there was just a little smoke coming out if it. The T-rex smoldered for about 10 minutes, during which we called the fire department. By the time it started to erupt out of the feet, it was pretty much a done deal and we fought the fire back with our remaining extinguishers but then it spread to the legs."
"We were able to get spectacular photos and video and shared them over the larger platform of the internet. Because the imagery is so exciting, a lot of people have noticed and it's gotten quite a bit of traction."
With Jurassic World: Fallen Kingdom coming out in June and dino mania reaching a fever pitch, the image of fire and dinosaurs has struck a nerve with fans worldwide.
"We were unintentionally creating movie scenes but we're hoping the director might reach out to us and find out about our special effects and how we make exploding dinosaurs and fire-breathing dragons," Reynolds joked. "We've been in touch with the manufacturer already and have arranged for a replacement T-rex that we hope to have installed before the summer season begins. We're also getting ready to welcome in a new Stegosaurus cast into our museum from one found in our area, so we're looking forward to a thrilling start to our summer season here."
Royal Gorge Dinosaur Experience is a fun destination near the famous Royal Gorge Bridge and Park offering a wide range of science-focused interactive displays, full-scale dino fossil casts, instructional hands-on exhibits, and guided tours. It opened two years ago after a previous dinosaur museum shuttered.
Reynolds' family has deep paleontological ties to the area of Southern Colorado, which is very famous for its paleontological discoveries. They saw an opportunity to be able to share the unique significance of the region with their locals and guests by opening an 18,000-square-foot dinosaur museum, gift shop, theater, and a three-story ropes course outside with two giant animatronic dinosaurs next to it. Well, now only one!
"Then we have 14 other animatronic dinosaurs as well, lining the path of a nature trail where visitors can walk around and see life-size and anatomically correct dinosaurs move and make sounds in a natural setting."
Reynolds' children affectionately named the imposing T-rex "Chicken" due to its thin steel support legs while it was being put together, and due to the strong avian/dinosaur link, the name had stuck.
"We lost our poor Chicken yesterday but the good news is, we're having a fire sale on our Wild Walk attraction," he said. "We're offering a discount on that now, and are considering having a T-rex barbecue as well!"