Fire ravages Whiskey Row buildings

Fire ravages Whiskey Row buildings

// 7.7.15

The side of a building on Louisville's historic Whiskey Row collapsed after a fire started there late Monday afternoon. The fire was reported in the 100 block of West Main Street in an old whiskey warehouse in the same block that Brown-Forman plans to create the Old Forester distillery experience. The fire backed up traffic on First and Main streets as smoke billowed onto the street, and Humana evacuated two buildings in the area. Louisville Fire Capt. Salvador Melendez confirmed the fire started in the basement of the building and no one was injured in the fire. Melendez said the buildings experienced a couple of collapses, including floors and outer walls. He was confident the fire wouldn't spread any further late Monday, although he expected firefighters to stay through the night. "Where you see it is where it's staying," Melendez said. More than 80 firefighters were working to extinguish the fire Monday night, and Melendez said they would rotate in shifts through the night. Some construction personnel were working in the building a few hours prior to the fire being reported, Melendez said, but "that is not to say they might have done something to start the fire." He said officials know there was someone using power tools in the building, but they don't know what kind. Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer was expected to make a statement Monday evening, as were the owners of the building. Lesly Bradshaw, who works at Impellizzeri's Pizza across the street, said everyone evacuated the business around 5:30 p.m. She said she watched the firetrucks come in, and "the next thing you know, it's blazing." Kate Marx, a spokeswoman for Humana, said the Waterside and Clocktower buildings were evacuated to ensure employees' safety. Marx couldn't confirm how many employees were evacuated because the fire happened outside business hours. Brown-Forman Corp. has asked Louisville Metro Council for a total of $45 million in tax-exempt bond financing to develop its planned Old Forester Distillery and visitors experience in two historic buildings on the block. Its plans include fermentation, distilling, barrel-making, filling and dumping and bottling. The buildings were built around 1857 and used to store barrels of whiskey produced at numerous distilleries in the area. At least 19 distillers, wholesalers, and other whiskey-related businesses called that block of West Main Street home, Brown-Forman previously told The Courier-Journal. Reporters Phillip M. Bailey, Sheldon S. Shafer, Gina Kim and Janica Kaneshiro contributed to this story. Source: The Courier-Journal July 6, 2015

http://www.courier-journal.com/story/news/local/2015/07/06/whiskey-row-b...