Clark County

Explosion leads to fire and major structural damage at Winchester hemp facility

There was an explosion and fire Thursday night at GenCanna, a hemp processing facility in Clark County.
There was an explosion and fire Thursday night at GenCanna, a hemp processing facility in Clark County. WKYT

No one was injured when a Clark County hemp processing facility caught fire after an explosion, but the damage was significant, according to the company.

The fire occurred a little after 8 p.m. Thursday at GenCanna and originated in a building in its hemp research campus, GenCanna said in a statement. Clark County Fire Chief Ernie Barnes told WKYT firefighters knocked the fire down pretty quickly.

“They do use some different chemicals in their refining process, so that makes (us) a little extra cautious, and then just due to the structural damage, we have to make sure that it’s safe for our crews to work in,” said Barnes.

It wasn’t clear what caused the fire.

GenCanna said in a statement it will work closely with the appropriate authorities in their investigation.

“Importantly, our initial assessment has revealed some vital areas of the building were not directly affected by the fire including the QA/QC laboratory and greenhouses,” GenCanna said in a statement. “While we didn’t expect this setback, we won’t let it deter GenCanna from our mission to create the American hemp industry with Kentucky as its heart and foundation.”

Five employees were inside the facility at the time of the explosion, but they were not in the lab area, WKYT reported. Kentucky State Police, the state fire marshal and the Lexington and Winchester fire departments assisted, according to WKYT.

Formed and headquartered in Kentucky, GenCanna employs about 300 people and it announced in January that it had developed a hemp strain with no THC.

Part of GenCanna’s plant turns chopped-up hemp into a dried powder to sell as a nutritional supplement.

Mike Stunson covers breaking news and real-time news for the Lexington Herald-Leader and He is a 2011 Western Kentucky University graduate who has previously worked at the Paducah Sun and Madisonville Messenger as a sports reporter.
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