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Star Trek 3 was threatened by “raging” fire, but Shatner saved the day

He's used to being the hero on screen as Captain James Kirk, but William Shatner also helped to save the production of one of the best Star Trek movies.

William Shatner as Captain Kirk from Star Trek

What do you do when the production of a classic Star Trek movie is in danger of being shut down because of a huge fire? You let Star Trek legend, William Shatner, do what he does best and save the day. He’s not regarded as one of the best Star Trek captains for nothing!

When you watch the Star Trek movies in order, the first two films are brilliant in bringing the small screen adventures of the USS Enterprise to the big screen. However, it’s Star Trek 3: The Search for Spock, that we deem the most fun and in-keeping with the tone of the original and the best Star Trek series. It may not be at the top our list of the Star Trek movies ranked, but we have a genuine soft spot for this third installment of the William Shatner cinematic era of Trek.

The flick very nearly met a disastrous end, however, when a 90 foot fire threatened to burn the whole thing to the ground. Taking inspiration from the best Star Trek character, James T. Kirk, William Shatner jumped into action and helped to beat the flames.

On August 25, 1983, the cast and crew were nine days into filming The Search for Spock, when a blaze enveloped the Paramount lot in Los Angeles (not dissimilar to the erupting fire on the Genesis Planet in Star Trek 3 itself). With an incredibly tight production schedule, Shatner realized the team could ill afford to lose a day’s shooting, and decided to help put out the fire.

On the wild events, Leonard Nimoy, the director of the movie – and Spock – told Harold Greene (via TV Crew Guy): “I had no choice. There was nothing I could do about the fire. I had a schedule to meet. We shot as best we could. The only problem we had to contend with on the stage where we were shooting was that the fire department and police department helicopters were circling overhead and we were having trouble getting our dialogue. But the fire was raging several hundred yards away and Shatner went out and helped the fire department. They put out the fire and that was the end of that.”

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Shatner himself had a few words to say on the matter too. In the behind-the-scenes features on the DVD release, the Trek icon said: “My desperation was not to save anything but the one day that we would lose on the set.”

So, it seems even when he’s not piloting the best Star Trek starships, Shatner still possesses all the bravery and selflessness needed to be a worthy captain.

For more Star Trek content, our guides on the Star Trek Legacy release date and the Star Trek Strange New Worlds season 3 release date will help you live long and prosper. Or, if it’s the big screen you’re more concerned with, here’s all we know about the Star Trek 4 release date, and you can learn why Nimoy “resented” Star Trek III.

We’ve more fun anecdotes about Shatner, too, like how he reacted to meeting Mark Hamill and the one question he was asked by Stephen Hawking. Meanwhile, if it’s fire that get you through the day, here’s a story about Clint Eastwood refusing to leave a movie set even though it was on fire.