July 5 (UPI) -- A major fire that's destroyed 45,000 barrels of bourbon at a Jim Beam storage facility in central Kentucky is still burning after more than two days, authorities said.
The warehouse in Versailles, Ky., caught fire Tuesday night -- possibly due to a lightning strike -- and has been difficult to extinguish because of the abundance of alcohol that's leaked into a nearby creek and the Kentucky River.
Wednesday, fire officials made the decision to let the fire burn itself out rather than put more water on it, which they say would cause more bourbon to run off into the waterways. The flames were still burning Thursday night.
"There is less environmental impact to allowing the ethanol to continue to burn," Woodford County Emergency Management director Drew Chandler said. "That's really all that's left."
Alcohol reduces oxygen levels in the water, which can suffocate fish. Fire crews placed aeration devices in Glenns Creek and the Kentucky River to stimulate oxygen and are blocking more runoff with sand.
"We're starting to see fish kill, and we think that it's very likely to get worse," Kentucky Energy and Environmental Cabinet spokesman John Mura said.
The warehouse, as long as a football field and six stories high, was destroyed. Officials said a second warehouse caught fire, but was quickly controlled.
The Woodford County Fire and Versailles Police departments will remain on the scene until the fire is extinguished, officials said. At the height of the fire, firefighters from six different agencies fought the flames.
"We are thankful that no one was injured in this incident," Jim Beam spokesperson Emily York said in a statement. "Given the [young] age of the lost whiskey, this fire will not impact the availability of Jim Beam for consumers."