- Associated Press - Monday, July 6, 2015

LOUISVILLE, Ky. (AP) - Fire broke out Monday in Louisville’s historic downtown Whiskey Row, and dozens of firefighters worked to control the blaze in the vacant buildings.

No injuries were reported as a huge plume of dark smoke rose and flames were visible at the tops of the buildings near the KFC Yum Center.

Louisville Fire Capt. Salvador Melendez said several adjacent businesses were evacuated.

Lesley Bradshaw, a server at Impellizzeri’s Pizza across Main Street from the fire, said employees watched from inside the restaurant until they were told to leave.

Part of the roof of one building had collapsed, but the brick facades remained intact.

Melendez says the fire started in the basement or first floor of a building and involved three structures. Firefighters were called to Main Street about 4:30 p.m.

The fire appeared to be contained, and firefighters were working to protect nearby business, Melendez said. About 75 firefighters were at the scene at one point, he said.

Renovation work began about two weeks ago on the buildings where the fire broke out, he said.

The buildings that caught fire Monday are owned by an investment group with connections to Brown-Forman Corp. but not by the company, Brown-Forman spokesman Phil Lynch said.

The buildings are adjacent to buildings being renovated by Brown-Forman to build the Old Forester Distillery, Lynch said. The company said last year it was investing $30 million to turn two historic buildings into a production facility and tourist attraction.

Some of the Whiskey Row properties were built in the 1850s and used for warehousing barrels of whiskey produced at area distilleries.

The area’s name comes from the city’s liquor-making heyday. Whiskey production dates to the late 1700s in downtown Louisville.

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