Fire crews fight flames in Whiskey Row buildings, facades will l - WDRB 41 Louisville News

Fire crews fight flames in Whiskey Row buildings, facades will likely be saved

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LOUISVILLE, Ky. (WDRB) -- Louisville Fire crews began battling a blaze in a Whiskey Row structure Monday afternoon and officials say they remained on the scene through Tuesday morning. 

A 9 a.m. news conference is planned to update what fire officials know. WDRB will live stream that event here on WDRB.com.  

Road Closures in place for Tuesday: 

MetroSafe says several streets are closed downtown near the Whiskey Row buildings. The following streets will likely be closed most of the day on Tuesday: Main Street from Brook to 2nd Streets; Washington from 2nd to Brook Streets; and Witherspoon from 2nd to Brook Streets. 

Monday evening

Captain Sal Melendez said the facades of the Whiskey Row buildings along Main street would likely be saved, after concerns of a possible collapse. Officials also said all nearby business would reopen Tuesday morning, except O'Sheas -- which they said is too close to the fire.  

There were no fire personnel in the buildings at 111-119 West Main Street Monday evening as the nature of the buildings made it difficult to gauge the safety of sending crews in to investigate, according to Melendez. However, just after 7 p.m. he announced the fire had been contained.

"There’s a lot of floor space and a lot of rooms where the fire has spread," Melendez said. "We are anticipating we are going to be here for an extended period of time -- at least through the night."

Melendez said crews would be working through the night to keep an eye on hotspots and that block of Main Street would stay closed through the night. 

Read more: Mayor Fischer speaks about Whiskey Row fire

Nearby buildings evacuated, emergency advisory issued (expired)

Louisville's Emergency Management Agency issued an advisory for buildings near Whiskey Row due to heavy smoke. EMA said all residents should "close all windows, doors and turn off air systems."

That advisory expired at 9:25 p.m.

Employees and residents have been evacuated from nearby buildings containing Me Gusta, Doc Crow's, O'Shea's and Bearno's -- though Melendez said the surrounding structures appear to be protected. He said the fire is limited to the original three buildings. 

Crews were pushing bystanders back as a precaution. 

"We're bracing for a potential collapse," Melendez said earlier in the afternoon. 

Impellizeri's Pizza across the street voluntarily evacuated and sent everyone home while the Humana building nearby has been asked to shelter in place. 

Doc Crow's tweeted about 7 p.m. the restaurant would be closed for the evening.

The Galt House Hotel tweeted a special rate would be offered for those in need Monday night. 

Watch: Drone footage shows smoke billowing from Whiskey Row as crews fight flames

How it started

Fire officials say crews were dispatched to a report of a structure fire at 4:30 p.m. and crews were told not to enter the building due to the level of the fire alarm.  

Captain Melendez said the fire began in a structure that has been undergoing renovations for about two weeks. He added that crews were inside the building working with power tools as late as 3:00 Tuesday afternoon -- though couldn't say whether or not that had anything to do with the fire. 

“The fire did start in the basement of the building,” Melendez said. “The building is a six-story building from the back.” 

Melendez said there are two floors below ground level and four floors above ground.

“There are three buildings that are involved – and have been involved from the beginning,” Melendez said. 

Chief Greg Frederick spoke alongside Mayor Greg Fischer Monday evening. He explained how his teams approached the fire.

“Our initial attack on this was from the Washington side … There was then some kind of explosion, and the fire spread up from the basement to the first and second floor … We then withdrew and went into defensive operations,” Frederick said.

He said crews would be sending a drone over the building to evaluate the situation and how the fire had evolved.

“We know the importance of the buildings to the city and community,” he added.

Images: Fire crews fight to contain blaze in Whiskey Row buildings

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