21 arrested, more than 80 fires extinguished during Final Four victory celebration

jwarren@herald-leader.comApril 6, 2014 

Twenty-one people were arrested and at least 80 fires were set in Lexington during Saturday night's celebration of Kentucky's Final Four victory over Wisconsin, police and fire officials said.

The arrests were mostly for disorderly conduct and public intoxication, police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said.

Most fans stayed within the law while whooping it up over Kentucky's leap into Monday's national championship game, Roberts said. But there was enough wild partying to keep police busy into the wee hours.

One person was shot in the arm about 2:15 a.m. Sunday, but Roberts said the incident apparently was unrelated to the basketball celebrations.

The victim was taken to the University of Kentucky Chandler Hospital, but Roberts said his wound did not appear to be life-threatening.

According to Roberts, the shooting apparently stemmed from an altercation between two people on railroad tracks west of the State Street area where recent NCAA victory celebrations have been centered. One of the two was a juvenile; the other was thought to be about 18, she said.

No one has been charged with the shooting, but Roberts said Sunday that officers did charge one suspect with cocaine possession and carrying a concealed deadly weapon in connection with the case. No names were immediately released.

Meanwhile, Battalion Chief Joe Best said Lexington firefighters said the estimate of 80 fires set Saturday night was a conservative estimate.

"Eighty is what we know we put out," Best said. "But there were a lot more that our guys would stop and put out as they were moving on to some other fire.

"Some fires we didn't get to before they burned themselves out. With so many different crews working so many different streets, they just didn't have time to document everything."

The blazes mainly involved burning furniture, trash or articles of clothing, firefighters said. Best said he wasn't aware of any buildings or cars being damaged.

Emergency crews treated or transported at least 34 people with various injuries, fire officials said.

Best aid that number included people who had minor burns, or had been hit by flying bottles or bits of glass. A few people were knocked unconscious from being hit by flying objects, and there were numerous cases of drunkenness, he said.

But Best added that many other people with minor injuries simply walked across South Limestone Street to be checked out at the UK Hospital. Those cases didn't get counted, he said.

"The official number of 34 is only a fraction of all the people who were hurt," he said.

Roberts said the crowd in the State Street area Saturday night was larger than the one that poured into the streets after the Wildcats beat Michigan to reach the Final Four last week. However, she didn't have an official count.

"Most people were behaving," she said. "But we did arrest 21 people, and last time we only had to arrest three. So, that's a significant difference.

"We also saw a lot of dangerous behavior: people climbing trees and poles, being on rooftops. There were just a lot instances where people could have gotten seriously hurt."

Some people did fall from trees, but they were not badly injured, Roberts said.

Jim Warren (859) 231-3255. Twitter: @heraldleader

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