Lexington firefighters ask for public's help in Blue Grass Stockyards fire investigation

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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - Lexington firefighters are now asking for the public's help, as they continue to investigate the cause of Saturday's massive fire at the Blue Grass Stockyards.

Firefighters are asking anyone who has pictures or videos of the fire before the first fire trucks arrived at the scene to send them to arsontips@lexingtonky.gov.

"We currently have no reason to suspect this fire was intentionally set," said Lexington Fire Department spokesman Joe Best, in a news release. "We are seeking the public's assistance in the form of pictures or videos that may confirm the origin of the fire."

The fire burned ten acres and spread to nearby businesses.
Governor Matt Bevin and Agriculture Commissioner Ryan Quarles toured fire damage at the Blue Grass Stockyard on Monday.

Bevin offered his support and sympathy to the business owners who lost property during Saturday's massive fire.

Quarles said the loss of the Blue Grass Stockyards was personal because his father worked there while he was a child.

On Monday afternoon, firefighters were down to 'hot spots' at the stockyards, and while that may seem minimal, they say crews still have upwards of 10-acres worth of hot spots to put out.

The three-alarm fire that destroyed the stockyards and five other businesses started around 2 p.m. on Saturday on Lisle Industrial Avenue.

"If this was going to happen on a Saturday afternoon, this was probably the best time and the best day for it to happen," Scott Bucher, part owner, said.

Firefighters and ATF agents still don't know where or how the fire started.

"Cattle start coming back in on Sunday, for sale Monday. Saturday is kind of the down day. We're assuming there was a few cattle in there were a few cattle in there, but it would probably be the least number of any day of the week."

A handful of workers and 49 cattle were inside the massive stockyard when it caught fire and engulfed in flames. The workers are accounted for.

"It's a standing lumber yard," Interim Fire Chief Harold Hoskins said. "It's a lot of wood a lot of combustibles. It's been here forever."

Lexington fire officials say more than eight acres were destroyed by fire. It took more than 120 firefighters to get the flames under control.

"We prepare for this. We train all the time. Crews that work in this area, they know the potential here. So they had an idea of how they wanted to start this when they showed up."

Lexington Fire officials say this is the worst fire they've seen in the city in the last 30 years.

"Loss, yes significant," Mayor Jim Gray said. "Historical, historic member of our community for a very long time."

"We're just going to go on. I mean that's the way it is," Bucher said. "This was a very old historical building. We hate it because of that. A lot of memories. Gene's been here all of his life. I've been here all of my life and that part is sad, but as long as nobody was hurt; We can rebuild. We can go on."

The American Red Cross opened a shelter at Cardinal Valley Elementary for nearby residents impacted by the fire. That address is 218 Mandalay Road.

Lexington Fire asks impacted businesses, and witnesses, to call (859)231-5600. A nearby car impound lot lost vehicles, but the extent of damage is not known yet.

Blue Grass Stockyards will be open at its six other locations. Any farmers that have cattle to sell can do so this week in Stanford and Mt. Sterling.


Calling it the worst fire in the city in more than 30 years, Lexington firefighters say it took 120 firemen to bring a massive three-alarm blaze at the Blue Grass Stockyards under control Saturday.

The fire at Lisle Industrial Avenue and Forbes Road near downtown started just after 2 p.m. and completely destroyed the building.

“This was a very historical building. We hate it because of that, a lot of memories,” said Scott Bucher who is part owner of the stockyards. “I've been here all of my life, and that part is sad. But as long as nobody was hurt we can rebuild. We'll rebuild. We can go on.”

Firefighters say that flames reached anywhere from 40 to 70 feet in the air at times.

When flames started tearing through the stockyard this afternoon, smoke could be seen as far away as Louisville.

The towering wall of smoke drew crowds of people who wanted to see the spectacle. It also drew employees who were sickened by the damage.

"It's had an impact on us in a lot of different ways,” said Troy Keith, a veterinarian assistant who worked at the stockyards for 16 years. “It was your job and how you made your living. The history of the stockyard and the time that it has been here. It was a staple amongst the livestock industry across the U.S.”

Keith says for many years, the Blue Grass Stockyards was the largest stockyard in the country east of the Mississippi.

Blue Grass Stockyards is being ruled a total loss. Between eight and nine acres of the property is under one roof, and it's all lost.

While only a handful of employees were working Saturday, there were 25 to 30 cows inside.

Saturday was not a sale day, but workers told WKYT that if it was a sale say there would have been 1,200 animals there as well as hundreds of people.

Since this was the largest stockyard in the region, Keith says many farmers who bought and sold livestock here will now have to start traveling to smaller stockyards in other cities, like Mt. Sterling and Richmond.

Other businesses in the area were impacted, including a car impounding lot.

Those who lived within a half mile radius were instructed to stay inside with their air conditioning and heating turned off because of the intense smoke.

Aerial video of the Bluegrass Stockyards fire from pilot Matt Doggett.STORY: http://www.wkyt.com/content/news/Massive-fire-reported--367101161.html?device=phone&c=y

Posted by Sean Moody WKYT on Saturday, January 30, 2016

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