Woodford County

Lightning strike started the Jim Beam warehouse fire as initially suspected

Dead carp float near the dock at the Kentucky River Campground in Frankfort, Ky., Friday, July 5, 2019. Fish affected by bourbon runoff from the Jim Beam warehouse fire that started Tuesday are turning up dead along the Kentucky River throughout the area.
Dead carp float near the dock at the Kentucky River Campground in Frankfort, Ky., Friday, July 5, 2019. Fish affected by bourbon runoff from the Jim Beam warehouse fire that started Tuesday are turning up dead along the Kentucky River throughout the area. Lexington

Officials have determined that a lightning strike caused a massive fire at the Jim Beam Woodford County warehouse, which went on to burn for several days and had wide-reaching environmental effects.

Jim Beam will likely face fines from the state Energy and Environment Cabinet and the Department of Fish & Wildlife Resources after bourbon reached waterways and killed fish, caused by a lightning strike, cabinet spokesman John Mura said.

On Tuesday, the Jim Beam facility transitioned from an emergency phase to long-term remediation and clean up, according to a environment cabinet Facebook post.

Initial suspicions that lightning started the fire proved correct, cabinet spokesman John Mura said.

The fire started late on July 2, destroying the warehouse and 45,000 barrels of young Jim Beam. The bourbon leaked and traveled first to Glenns Creek, then the Kentucky River and finally, the Ohio River, where fish were killed. The company and environmental officials attempted to minimize the number of fish killed by using equipment to restore oxygen to the water that the bourbon depleted.

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