David Copperfield’s Tornado of Fire

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The location of Copperfield’s latest illusion: Pier 94 in Manhattan
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Of course the NY Fire Department, NYPD and EMT kept a close eye on everything.

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The master of illusions: David Copperfield


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David is a really nice guy and I got a chance to talk to him for a few minutes.

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For the first test runs his crew used smoke instead of fire. 3 weeks ago technicians disabled all fire alarms and sprinklers in the huge hall of Pier 94. The tornado is created by a giant fan in the ceiling. It’s powered by a 350 hp engine. For these tests the engine only ran at about 10% of its capacity. When it gets turned up higher, the noise is incredible!

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After the tests, the Chief of the Fire Department asked to have his picture taken in the vortex.


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Of course then the rest of the Fire Department started goofing around and wanted their pictures taken, too.

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Then the stage hands lit the ring on fire. Originally David had planned to do this trick in the Chase Manhattan Bank building downtown. But the marble walls wouldn’t have been able to withstand the 2000 degree flames.

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Then they wanted to do it in the belly of the USS Intrepit aircraft carrier, but the ceilings in the ship were too low. So they ended up doing it at Pier 94.

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They used a couple of test dummies…

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This is what they looked like afterwards.

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Here’s another “survivor.”