Lexington, Ky. – Lexington Division of Fire and Emergency Services investigators have determined the January 30, 2016, fire at the Bluegrass Stockyards was accidental and not the result of any criminal intent or conduct.
“Our investigation is continuing, but we are ready to rule the cause of the fire accidental,” said Interim Fire Chief Harold Hoskins said.
The preliminary investigation indicates the fire was started accidentally by construction workers who working on the Stockyards’ roof, according to investigators. A construction worker was using a circular saw to cut metal roofing, which generated sparks that ignited combustible materials.
The two-week preliminary investigation was a joint effort of the Fire Department and the Federal Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives. It involved extensive on-scene examination, review of surveillance video and digital evidence, and interviews with numerous eye-witnesses.
Hoskins said the fire is the largest he has handled in his 33-year career. Approximately 120 firefighters fought the three-alarm blaze. There were no injuries.
After the fire started, low humidity and high winds caused it to spread rapidly through the stockyards to adjacent properties and buildings.
In addition to the Bluegrass Stockyards, the fire affected or destroyed buildings and property belonging to Leak Eliminators, Viking Wholesale and Slim’s Towing and several other businesses. The fire destroyed 184 vehicles and killed 49 head of cattle. Damage reports are expected to be updated prior to the issuance of the finalized report in early spring.
Hoskins added that fire investigators wish to thank the public and all of those involved with the investigation to this point for their cooperation and assistance. “Our jobs were made easier because of support agencies and members of the public who assisted and backed us during this massive operation,” he said.