Warehouse Fire Burns Thousands of Barrels of Jim Beam Bourbon in Kentucky

A Jim Beam warehouse caught fire late Tuesday and firefighters are continuing to battle the massive blaze because of alcohol in the debris.

The warehouse, in Versailles, Kentucky, caught fire around 11:30 p.m. Police Lt. Michael Fortney said a security guard called to report the fire.

Forty firefighters from five counties helped battle the blaze. A second warehouse also caught fire, but that blaze was controlled.

The warehouse where the fire started has collapsed.

The warehouse contained 45,000 barrels of “relatively young whiskey,” according to a statement from Beam Suntory, the parent company of Jim Beam.

“We are thankful that no one was injured in this incident, and we are grateful to the courageous firefighters from multiple jurisdictions who brought the fire under control and prevented it from spreading,” spokeswoman Emily York told CNN in a statement. “Given the age of the lost whiskey, this fire will not impact the availability of Jim Beam for consumers.”

Woodford County Emergency Management chief Drew Chandler said the warehouses are massive — about the same area as a football field and six or seven stories high.

Fortney said there was lightning in the area Tuesday night and it’s possible that it could have sparked the flames. Chandler said the fire had been way too big and hot to get a fire investigator near it. Even as the sun rose Wednesday, the blaze was still roaring.

Chandler told CNN the fire was purposefully being allowed to continue for several more hours so that it burned the less distilled spirits that are in the debris.

That will also help ensure any runoff from the firefighting efforts don’t pollute nearby sources of drinking water.

Around 2:00 p.m., firefighters renewed their work to completely extinguish the blaze.

“They are beginning fire suppression and will hand the facility back over to the owner soon thereafter,” Chandler said. “I anticipate local responders will clear the scene before dusk.”

There is a risk that the fire could reignite, so they will continue monitoring it after it’s put out.

In 2018, about 18,000 barrels of bourbon were lost when a warehouse in Bardstown, Kentucky, collapsed during building work. The bourbon run off killed about 1,000 fish in nearby waterways.

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