View Full Version : Jim Beam Warehouse Fire

08-04-2003, 13:29
I am heading to Bardstown Jim Beam has lost a warehouse there it is in a remote area near the Wal Mart. My brother called and said they should only lose one totally and have it contained.

08-04-2003, 16:46
There is no loss of life or injuries, a loss of about 800,000 gallons of Bourbon. No mention of age. I left the scene a few moments ago , they have lost a complete warehouse and the nearest one is very hot. They are still watering it down , I was told by Law enforcement at the scene that they are concerned because it is still very hot.

08-04-2003, 16:58
At least there were no injuries or loss of life, that is one's main concern. But the loss of 800,000 gallons of bourbon! http://www.click-smilie.de/sammlung/traurig/sad-smiley-034.gif Thanks for keeping us updated Bobby. I hope they can save the other warehouse.

08-04-2003, 18:14
On the 6 pm news in L'ville, they seemed confident that the other warehouse would be saved, but I will defer to our man on the scene, SB.com member of the year, bobbyc.

08-04-2003, 18:18
Here's the AP wire service story:

Kentucky bourbon warehouse burning
Associated Press

BARDSTOWN, Ky. - Fire engulfed a Jim Beam warehouse in the heart of Kentucky bourbon country Monday, sending alcohol-fueled flames high in the air before the seven-story structure collapsed.

The pile of debris from the metal and wood structure that held 800,000 gallons of whiskey continued burning hours after the fire was reported around 3 p.m. EDT. Bardstown Fire Chief Anthony Mattingly said there were no reports of injuries.

Firefighters trained water jets on two nearby warehouses for several hours to prevent the fire from spreading to them.

"Once the warehouse is engulfed in flames the best course of action for the fire departments is to protect the surroundings," said Joe Prewitt, director of Nelson County Emergency Management Services.

A statement from Jim Beam's headquarters in Deerfield, Ill., said the fire began after it was struck by lightning.

Mattingly suspected that lightning caused the fire, but could not confirm that until an investigation is complete. A severe storm warning was in effect for the area about the time of the fire, said James Brotherton, a meteorologist with the National Weather Service in Louisville.

"There was a lot of lightning," Brotherton said.

The company said the warehouse held approximately 19,000 barrels of bourbon, or less than two percent of its bourbon inventory.

"We are grateful that no one was harmed and we appreciate the heroic efforts of the first responders and the local fire fighting personnel," said Rich Reese, CEO and President, Jim Beam Brands Worldwide.

There are over 200 bourbon warehouses in Kentucky, which store about four million barrels, according to Ed O'Daniel, president of the Kentucky Distillers Association. Jim Beam is the largest bourbon producer in the state, O'Daniel said.

More than 95 percent of the world's bourbon is produced in Kentucky, where it has been made since the 1780s. More than a half-dozen distilleries are in the region, including Jim Beam, Maker's Mark and Wild Turkey.

Bardstown Mayor Dixie Hibbs arrived at the scene 40 miles south of Louisville at about 3:20 p.m. and watched the fire from a road that was about a city block away. She described the air as being "unbearably hot."

"As (the warehouse) fell the barrels broke, the whiskey ran out and ran down on top of the water," Hibbs said. "When alcohol starts burning you can't get it out," she said.

Mattingly, the Bardstown fire chief, said bourbon from the warehouse ran off into a creek next to the rear of the warehouse toward a road. The creek caught fire and firefighters dammed up the area in two locations.

"If there's any alcohol or if there are any byproducts that wash into the stream from the structure fire, that could wind up being harmful to the aquatic life," said Wayne Davis, an environmental section chief for the state's Division of Fish and Wildlife.

The last such fire occurred in 2000 when a blaze at a Wild Turkey distillery in Lawrenceburg destroyed a seven-story warehouse that held nearly 1 million gallons of aging bourbon in 17,200 barrels.

A similar massive fire at Heaven Hill Distilleries' Bardstown production facility in 1996 destroyed a distilling building and an estimated 2 percent of the world's stored bourbon.

To earn the name, bourbon must be made in the United States, contain at least 51 percent corn in the mash, be distilled at 160 proof or less and aged a minimum of two years in new charred white oak barrels.

In 2001, distillers sold nearly 13.1 million cases of bourbon nationwide, worth more than $3 billion.

08-04-2003, 18:27
For video, you can go to the WHAS web site. (http://www.whas11.com) I'm sure some of the other local stations will post video of it too. Whiskey warehouse fires make great television.

08-04-2003, 18:41
Thanks for the link to the story Chuck. I'm kinda surprised, but I actually waded through the two web pages of nonsense entries required to become a "member" so that I could log in and view the video clip.

08-04-2003, 19:47
I was at my brothers house which is between this site and Nazereth Sister House. He was getting pieces of ash in his yard. The smell in the air was sadly like a gigantic BarBQue. All that Oak, Bourbon and Char.

08-04-2003, 20:06
Do you happen to know the name of the distillery that used to be at that site? If it's where I think it is, it's a former distillery site that Beam bought for the warehouses.

08-04-2003, 20:27
This story is really a crying shame. Thank goodness nobody was injured!

BTW, why is this considered off-topic?

08-04-2003, 20:29
I don't know and need to find out. It is not the site that formerly was Beams before prohibition that now belongs to Heaven Hill. There are presently a trucking company and some car component manufacturing plants near the site of today's fire. BTW the 11 oclock news said the firefighters plan to leave the site at 2 AM and the work to save the nearest warehouse was successful.
In Sam Cecil's book I think this site is the SP Lancaster, RD #415 and Independent, Shawhan,Waterfill & Frazier , RD#28 It says at the end that Beam had bought 5 warehouses for storage after losing some at Boston by the April 3rd , 1974 tornado. For those of you not familiar with that , anyone can say April, 3rd and the meaning is clear here in Ky. There was an outbreak of Tornadoes , with extensive property damage( The roof of Freedom Hall, Cherokee Park Etc) All over the state actually With a Great Loss of life. I think on the magnitude of 40 plus lives lost.

08-04-2003, 20:33
BTW, why is this considered off-topic?

That's a good question, It seems like a General Bourbon topic to me. I'm almost as guilty as anyone of posting in the wrong spot , and I should know better.

08-05-2003, 00:01
I believe that is the site, back behind what is now the big industrial park where the Bourbon Festival Gala is held each year. (As if anything held in an industrial park can justly be called a "gala.") For those of you singing along at home, that's page 124 in your Cecil.

08-05-2003, 10:45
In this morning's Courier Journal story about the fire, it says Bardstown mayor Dixie Hibbs told them "a bourbon warehouse at the same property as yesterday's fire burned in 1968, long before Jim Beam bought the site." That confirms it is the old Waterfill & Frazier plant.

08-05-2003, 13:44
Sorry Guys,

BTW, why is this considered off-topic?

You're right, and I shouldn't have posted there first. But since I did, I went ahead and added a photo to the post in 'off topic'.
Sorry, I'll behave, I promise... http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/skep.gif

08-05-2003, 14:21
Ok, all 3 fire posts are now in the general bourbon topics forum. Here's a quick link (http://www.straightbourbon.com/ubbthreads/showthreaded.php?Cat=&Board=General&Number=18648&p age=0&view=collapsed&sb=5&o=14&vc=1) to see Brenda's post with a pic of the fire still burning this morning she posted in another thread.

08-06-2003, 07:40
Here's a link to that story:

Courier-Journal Fire Coverage (http://www.courier-journal.com/localnews/2003/08/05ky/wir-front-liquor0805-7371.html)

08-06-2003, 08:48
They did not show this picture in the link to the Courier Journal...

08-06-2003, 08:52
The Herald Leader (Lexington, KY) front page picture...

08-06-2003, 09:57
http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/deadhorse.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/deadhorse.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/deadhorse.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/deadhorse.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/deadhorse.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/deadhorse.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/deadhorse.gif

I know, I know...Let it ride...but I just read my local paper, The Kentucky Standard...and there was this one picture...

It made me revisit, one of the most dramatic events, that I have ever witnessed in my life...(I am referring to the fire at Heaven Hill)...When I saw this picture, it made a fear, go right through me...None of the "others" bothered me, except for this one...

This photographer, captured it...Just look, you can literally see the sides of the building at the brink collapse...What follows, is massive explosions...I can't describe the fear...just scarry as HELL...make ya weak in ya knees sort of thing...

This photo, is one that brought back the really sad memories of the awful day in November of 1996...

Bettye Jo...

http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/deadhorse.gif http://www.straightbourbon.com/forums/images/graemlins/deadhorse.gif Gonna leave that horse right here...ain't gonna bother it no more

08-06-2003, 10:01
Wow, what a photo. That is a great shot.

08-06-2003, 10:09
http://www.click-smilie.de/sammlung/sprachlos/speechless-smiley-020.gif http://www.howardforums.com/images/smilies/ohmygod.gif That is some amazing photo, wow... Thanks for sharing it and the others.

08-06-2003, 10:51
Hey, you're not flogging. That's a great post. Thanks

08-06-2003, 10:57
Thanks for the pics Bettye Jo, as I haven't had time to read the paper or watch the news lately. I bet it was quite a sight.

08-06-2003, 13:18
What an amazing picture!! I can see how that would evoke quite a few emotions!

What kind of logistical nightmare will this pose to the Beam company? From a financial standpoint, I'm sure they're insured for this kind of thing, aren't they?

Will this effect the availablility of their products?