July 3, 2019 / 3:36 PM / 18 days ago

REFILE-UPDATE 1-Lightning strike blamed in Kentucky blaze that scotched 45,000 barrels of bourbon

(Corrects spelling of "lightning" in headline)

July 3 (Reuters) - A massive fire that destroyed a Kentucky Jim Beam bourbon warehouse containing some 45,000 barrels of whiskey on Wednesday may have been caused by a lightning strike, a spokesman for the company said.

Two warehouses at Jim Beam's Versailles, Kentucky, facility caught fire late Tuesday and one burned until emergency crews gained control of the fire Wednesday morning, Jim Beam spokesman Dan Cohen said in a statement.

"Initial reports suggest the fire resulted from a lightning strike, and we will work with local authorities to confirm the cause and to remediate the impacts," Cohen said. He said the whiskey was relatively early along in the aging process and that the fire would not affect retail sales of the spirit.

One of the warehouses that was destroyed held 45,000 barrels each containing 53 gallons (200 liters) of bourbon whiskey, Cohen said. The company operates 126 barrel warehouses in Kentucky, which hold about 3.3 millions barrels in total.

No injuries were reported. (Reporting by Gabriella Borter in New York and Siddharth Cavale in Bangalore; Editing by David Gregorio)

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