Photo: Alex Valverde/Twitter

45,000 Barrels of Jim Beam Catch Fire and Spill Into the Kentucky River

by Eben Diskin Jul 3, 2019

No, you shouldn’t cry over spilled milk, but you should definitely cry over spilled whiskey. A Jim Beam warehouse in Kentucky’s Woodford County caught fire on Wednesday, and the contents of about 45,000 bourbon barrels has been pouring into the Kentucky River. Since one bourbon barrel holds approximately 53 gallons of bourbon, or 150-200 750ml bottles, that means around six million bottles of bourbon were lost.

Although it’s unclear exactly how the blaze started, the flames quickly spread from one warehouse to a second. Luckily, crews were able to extinguish the second warehouse’s fire before anyone was injured.

Drew Chandler, Woodford County Emergency Management director, told the Courier Journal, “I was standing 100 yards away (from the warehouse), and it’s hot. Crews can’t get close enough.” According to emergency services, there was a significant amount of runoff into the nearby river and creek.

Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesman John Mura told the Courier Journal, “We have asked fire departments to not spray water on the fire, though they are spraying the buildings next to the warehouse. Putting water on the fire would just increase the runoff. This fire is so hot that we think the best thing to do is let it consume all of the bourbon rather than having more of it go into the stream.”

Unfortunately, officials expect a significant number of fish to die as a result of the incident, just like what happened when a bourbon warehouse collapsed in the summer of 2018.

H/T: Courier Journal

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