Ky. fans celebrate win; dozens arrested swiftly

LEXINGTON, KY. (AP) - Police reported numerous small fires and dozens of arrests near Kentucky’s campus after the Wildcats defeated Kansas on Monday night to capture another NCAA title.

Fans filled the streets near the Lexington campus within minutes of the championship game’s conclusion late Monday. They jumped up and down, screamed, sprayed beer and waved Kentucky flags.

Lexington police had arrested several dozen people by the time the game had been over only a few minutes, police spokeswoman Sherelle Roberts said late Monday.

“We’re seeing fires being lit and things of that nature,” Roberts said, adding that people had set couches and at least one car on fire.

A car crashed into the patio area at a bar and grill where some people were dining, but the metal-and-brick wall kept the vehicle from getting onto the patio, she said. She didn’t have information about injuries.

Police had also handed out numerous citations, many for alcohol-related offenses, Roberts said.

“I think that we’re taking a more zero-tolerance approach,” she said. “That has a part to play in it, but also people started celebrating much earlier than they did on Saturday. The amount of time to become intoxicated and the amount of time for us to be in contact with these intoxicated people has increased.”

About two hours after the game, Roberts said police had arrested people for charges such as criminal mischief, disorderly conduct, alcohol intoxication and setting fires. She said officers were still making arrests but didn’t have a precise estimate. She said police had used some pepper spray to break up fights.

Battalion Chief Ed Davis of the Lexington Division of Fire and Emergency Services said about 40 fire runs had been made in the area where fans had gathered. One was a garage fire, but the rest were smaller nuisance fires involving couches or bedding, he said.

“And it’s still going on as we speak,” he said Tuesday morning. Davis knew of no fire-related injuries.

Emergency medical workers transported about 20 people to hospitals for treatment, mostly minor, he said. A lot of them were people who were intoxicated, while some had been hit by thrown objects or been involved in fights, Davis said.

The situation was similar to Saturday’s celebrations that resulted in several small fires, Davis said, although the area was more widespread Monday.

“There are literally thousands of people downtown everywhere,” he said a couple hours after the game was over. “Ninety-nine percent are doing what they’re supposed to.”

For their part, revelers said the post-game celebration was a far cry from the weekend mayhem. They credited heavy security.

“It was much worse Saturday,” said 20-year-old Miranda Snow, who recalled seeing couch fires and other blazes two nights earlier.

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