VIDEO: On this day in 1996, one of the country’s worst-ever distillery fires began. At the Heaven Hill warehouses in Bardstown, Kentucky, a fire started in the afternoon on Nov. 7 that eventually destroyed nearly 100,000 barrels of bourbon.
A storm was brewing in the afternoon, with winds clocking in at 70 mph. The fire began in one of the dozens of wooden warehouses that stored thousands of barrels of aging bourbon. Once it had started, the fire became almost impossible to stop. The fire jumped between warehouses, incinerating the wooden holds fed by their extremely flammable contents. Hundreds of firefighters rushed to the scene to be met with walls of flames 20 stories high, which quickly gave way to an 18-inch deep river of burning bourbon. The weather conditions seemed just to enrage the fire, with the wind acting as a blowtorch.