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Environmental Concerns Mount As Fire Continues At Jim Beam

jb fire
Fire at the Jim Beam distillery on July 3, 2019.

Fire crews remain on the scene Wednesday afternoon at a massive bourbon warehouse blaze near the Franklin/Woodford county line.

The fire broke out Tuesday night and destroyed the Jim Beam facility and with it some 45,000 barrels of bourbon. Initial reports indicate the fire was caused by a lightning strike.

No injuries were reported.

As a helicopter circled overhead just before noon, firefighters continued to put water on the flames still visible in a smoldering pile of rubble. Larry and Janet Putz are visiting Kentucky distilleries from their Florida home. Janet Putz says they heard about the 1996 Heaven Hill distillery fire just a couple of days ago when they stopped at the Bardstown facility. She says the aging process brings home the impact of such a fire.

“Terrible because when you take the tour and you see everything that goes into making those barrels of bourbon and all that time,” she said. “It’s just a shame that it would go up in flames like that.”

Jim Beam officials said in a statement that the long-time distiller operates 126 barrel warehouses in Kentucky that hold 3.3 million barrels of bourbon.

State officials sent out a news release just after noon saying there could be substantial environmental impacts to the Kentucky River including a sizeable fish kill. The runoff is anticipated to cause water discoloration, foaming, and odor. Recreational activity is not prohibited but users are advised to be aware of the conditions before entering the waterway.