Several fire departments battled an enormous blaze at the Jim Beam aging facility in Woodford County.
Woodford County Emergency Management Director Drew Chandler told WKYT that a barrel warehouse caught fire at approximately 11:30 Tuesday night and quickly spread to an adjacent warehouse. Firefighters put out the blaze at the second warehouse, but the other continued to burn for several hours as Bluegrass Emergency Response Team supplied flame-retardant foam to aid in extinguishing the fire.
A local business supplied sand to help limit the runoff from flowing into nearly Glenns Creek.
Chandler told media outlets the fire burned so hot he could feel the heat from the blaze while standing about 350 feet away.
Officials said approximately 45,000 barrels of bourbon were housed in the warehouse that is still burning (one barrel contains about 53 gallons of bourbon).
Jim Beam officials said no one was hurt in the fire and no injuries to firefighters have been reported.
Chandler said that the fire may have started with a lightning strike but that has yet to be confirmed. It is expected that firefighters will remain on scene until at least late Wednesday night.
Dan Cohen, spokesman for Jim Beam’s parent company Beam Suntory, issued the following statement:
“We have a comprehensive warehouse safety program that includes regular inspections and rigorous protocols to promote safety and the security of our aging inventory. We operate 126 barrel warehouses in Kentucky that hold approximately 3.3 million barrels for our brands, and the warehouse that was destroyed contained 45,000 barrels of relatively young whiskey from the Jim Beam mash bill. Given the age of the lost whiskey, this fire will not impact the availability of Jim Beam for consumers.”
(Photo courtesy of the Chicago Tribune)
By Ken Howlett, News Director
Contact Ken at firstname.lastname@example.org or 270-259-6000