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Flames Engulf Bourbon Facility

The distiller says that lightning caused the fire at the seven-story warehouse in Kentucky. No injuries are reported.

August 05, 2003|From Associated Press

BARDSTOWN, Ky. — Fire engulfed a seven-story bourbon warehouse Monday, sending alcohol-fueled flames more than 100 feet in the air.

The Jim Beam warehouse collapsed about two hours after the fire was reported at 3 p.m. and continued to burn. The company said the metal-and-wood structure held about 19,000 barrels of bourbon, or less than 2% of its bourbon inventory.

Bourbon from the warehouse ran off into a nearby creek and caught fire. Firefighters dammed up the area to contain the burning alcohol, said Fire Chief Anthony Mattingly.

There were no reports of injuries.

Firefighters doused two nearby warehouses with water to save them, while a firetruck stood by at a third.

"Only one of them is on fire, and they're working to make sure that it stays that way and to contain the burning whiskey," said Larry Green, a city official.

Emergency officials did not know the fire's cause, but the company said in a statement from its headquarters in Deerfield, Ill., that lightning was to blame.

Warehouse and distillery fires are typically devastating because of the flammable alcohol. In 2000, a fire at a Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg destroyed a seven-story warehouse that held nearly 1 million gallons of aging bourbon in 17,200 barrels.

More than 95% of the world's bourbon is produced in Kentucky, where it has been made since the 1780s. More than half a dozen distilleries are in the region, including Jim Beam, Maker's Mark and Wild Turkey.

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