Fayette County

Smoke at Big Blue Madness blamed for sending two people to the hospital

Two people were taken to the hospital after smoke lingered in the air during Big Blue Madness at Rupp Arena Friday night.

The annual kickoff to the University of Kentucky basketball season includes fireworks and dry ice, which provides a smoke effect, said UK spokesman Jay Blanton.

Blanton said “a handful of people” came to the first aid station between 8 and 8:30 p.m. because they were affected by smoke in the upper portions of the arena.

He said police opened doors in the concourses, and “the smoke dissipated pretty quickly” afterward.

Lexington Fire Department Mjr. Jordan Saas said four people reported difficulty breathing, and two of them were taken to the hospital. He did not know how serious their conditions were.

Blanton said high humidity is thought to have caused the smoke to hang around longer than it usually does during the annual celebration, which gives the Big Blue Nation a first peek at the Wildcats’ men’s and women’s basketball teams.

“We pretest all elements of the show,” Blanton said, noting that the city fire marshal, UK fire marshal and Lexington fire chief give prior approval to the pyrotechnics.

“We didn’t do anything substantively different than we’ve previously done,” he said.