Kentucky River littered with dead fish in wake of Jim Beam warehouse fire

The bourbon is expected to dissipate quickly once it reaches the Ohio River, a much larger body of water, the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet said.
Image: The Kentucky River was littered with dead fish after a massive fire at the Jim Beam bourbon warehouse devastated wildlife in the area.
The Kentucky River was littered with dead fish after a massive fire at the Jim Beam bourbon warehouse devastated wildlife in the area.Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet

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By Janelle Griffith

The Kentucky River is littered with dead fish days after a massive fire broke out at a Jim Beam bourbon facility.

State environmental officials said they are seeing increasing amounts of dead and distressed fish as a result of the July 2 fire at the facility in Versailles in Woodford County.

Beam Suntory, the company that owns the facility, said 45,000 barrels "of relatively young whiskey" were lost in the blaze, which was extinguished over the weekend.

The Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet said in a statement on social media that an “alcohol plume” from the bourbon runoff in the Kentucky River is approximately 23 miles long. People using the Kentucky River in the area of the plume will see and may smell dead fish, the cabinet said.

State environmental officials said they are assessing wildlife impacts and doing fishkill counts along the waterways near the facility.

"These teams will continue assessments and work to mitigation efforts of the spill until water quality returns to normal conditions in the river," the cabinet said. "Other impacts observed on the river include foaming, discoloration, and odor."

The bourbon is expected to dissipate quickly once it reaches the Ohio River, a much larger body of water, the cabinet said.