Major fire burns 2 Jim Beam bourbon warehouses in Woodford County

WKYT SkyFirst aerial video of the Jim Beam warehouse fire in Woodford County (Photo: WKYT)
WKYT SkyFirst aerial video of the Jim Beam warehouse fire in Woodford County (Photo: WKYT)(WKYT)
Published: Jul. 3, 2019 at 2:06 AM EDT
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Multiple crews are on the scene of a major fire at a bourbon warehouse facility.

Woodford County Emergency Management Director Drew Chandler tells WKYT two barrel warehouses at a Jim Beam aging facility caught fire around 11:30 p.m. Tuesday.

The facility is on McCracken Pike, near the Franklin County line.

Chandler says one warehouse initially caught fire with flames spreading to the second structure.

Crews were able to put out the flames in the second warehouse. Flames were still visible in the first warehouse five hours after the fire started.

Chandler says approximately 45,000 barrels of bourbon were in the warehouse that was still burning. He speculated crews could be on scene until late Wednesday night.

Multiple agencies are working to put the fire out. Bluegrass Emergency Response Team out of Lexington is bringing foam to the scene.

Chandler also said it's possible the fire was caused by a lightning strike, but that has not been confirmed.

Dan Cohen, who is the spokesman for Jim Beam's parent company Beam Suntory, said no one was hurt in the fire, and the company thanked first responders who remain at the scene.

"We have a comprehensive warehouse safety program that includes regular inspections and rigorous protocols to promote safety and the security of our aging inventory," Cohen said. "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."

A local business is bringing sand to control runoff into Glenns Creek. It wasn't enough to prevent runoff from entering the creek and the nearby Kentucky River.

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet sent crews to the scene. The state believes water being used to extinguish the fire will run off into the creek. It has also advised firefighters to let the fire burn itself off to prevent an additional runoff.

The state is anticipating a "serious impact" on aquatic life in the creek and Kentucky River as a result. There are no concerns over drinking water at this time.

McCracken Pike is shut down while crews actively fight the fire.

This story is developing and will be updated.