July 3 (UPI) -- Officials say a lightning strike may be to blame for a major fire late Tuesday night at a warehouse that stores Jim Beam bourbon in central Kentucky.
The flames began shortly before midnight Tuesday at the Woodford County warehouse. Wednesday, dozens of firefighters let it burn itself out as they stopped the fire from spreading to a second warehouse. A nearby shed and tractor-trailer were damaged.
Officials are also concerned about environmental damage because of bourbon that leaked into a nearby creek -- and potentially the Kentucky River.
"By limiting the contaminated runoff, that is one less environmental impact we have to worry about," Woodford County Emergency Management chief Drew Chandler said.
There was lightning in the area before the fire started, but officials said they're not yet sure about a cause.
The warehouse, located next to the Old Crow Distillery, contained 45,000 barrels of relatively young whiskey from the Jim Beam mash bill. Each barrel holds 53 gallons of bourbon, enough to fill 6.8 million 750-ml bottles. Woodford County's is one of 126 barrel warehouses Jim Beam owns in Kentucky.
"Given the age of the lost whiskey, this fire will not impact the availability of Jim Beam for consumers," the company said.
Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesperson John Mura said the bourbon could have a sizable impact on the fish that live in the area by restricting their oxygen supply. He advised firefighters not to spray excess water on the flames because it increases bourbon runoff.