Twenty-nine arrests, more than 35 fires set after Monday's UK-UConn game

jwarren@herald-leader.comApril 8, 2014 

At least 29 people were arrested and more than 35 fires were set during Monday night's NCAA post-game partying, Lexington police and fire officials said.

The numbers are estimates, and information is still being reviewed, officials said.

No property was seriously damaged or destroyed, and no one was seriously injured, Police Chief Ronnie Bastin said Tuesday during a news conference.

Monday's crowd was smaller than previous gatherings in the State Street area, but it was "more rambunctious and rowdy," Bastin said.

That was one reason for the relatively large number of arrests, officials said.

Lexington fire officials confirmed that a blaze that damaged a house in the 200 block of State Street early Tuesday morning was intentionally set sometime after a large crowd gathered in the area after the University of Kentucky lost the in the NCAA championship game.

Fire Chief Keith Jackson said the fire "potentially" could have been related to the blowout along State Street, but the connection is unclear.

The fire major at the scene said there was some "suspicious activity going on when he arrived," Jackson said.

The blaze started about 4:55 a.m., after many of the revelers had dispersed, authorities said.

Overall, authorities said, things went smoothly.

Bastin thanked the community for its support over the recent NCAA tournament games, and he praised the various agencies that helped during the repeated post-game partying near the UK campus. He also thanked fans who did not break the law.

"Over the past few weeks, the majority of fans cheered, celebrated and lived up to their reputation as the best fans in college basketball," he said. "We appreciate everyone who obeyed the law, celebrated responsibly, and reported dangerous and illegal behavior.

"Our jobs were made easier because of you," Bastin said.

Officials said most Kentucky fans went home after the peacefully and quietly after the game.

"We did have a number ... in the State Street area to gather and continue to show team spirit," Bastin said. "Out of that group, we only had a handful of issues."

The police chief said he thought the authorities' pre-tournament decision to let fans celebrate as much as possible, while detaining obvious lawbreakers, had been successful.

Bastin said a few people were hurt while doing crowd control Monday night — he said he was hit by a flying bottle — but none of the injuries were serious.

Jackson said Lexington firefighters extinguished 19 burning couches and 18 trash fires Monday night. Emergency crews treated at least 23 people and sent eight to the hospital, he said.

Jackson said the house on State Street that was damaged in the early-morning fire had been identified as vacant.

"We responded and quickly extinguished the fire in 30 minutes," he said.

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

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