Heater blamed for explosion and fire at asphalt plant in Berea


BEREA, Ky. (WTVQ) – Firefighters responded to an explosion Sunday night in Madison County, putting out the fire before it got to tens of thousands of gallons of a flammable product used for making blacktop.

The Berea Fire Department says an off-duty firefighter saw the flames at The Allen Company off KY-21 and called it in around 6:21 p.m.

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Firefighters found an old heater for the facility had exploded. They say several 100 gallons of oil were feeding it and natural gas was keeping the fire burning. The fire department found a valve to shut off the natural gas supply.

Delta Gas also shut off the main valve just to be safe.

Firefighters used foam in their firefighting efforts. They say they had the fire out by about 7:00 p.m.

No one was hurt.

Firefighters say they don’t know what caused it and probably never will because it was so badly damaged. No one was at the facility at the time and it wasn’t operating.

According to the fire department, the old heater sits in a containment area of its own so there was very little run-off from the damage and firefighting efforts.

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Tom Kenny joined ABC 36 News in June of 2001 as a General Assignment Reporter. A native of Peoria, Illinois, he graduated cum laude with a Bachelor of Arts in Mass Communications from Western Illinois University. He currently anchors ABC 36 News at 5pm, 6pm and 11pm. Tom has more than three decades of experience in broadcast journalism. He is the only broadcast journalist in Lexington television history to be honored with a national Edward R. Murrow Award. Tom was recognized for reporting on a story that gave a rare glimpse inside the secretive world of the Federal Witness Protection Program. He has won an Emmy Award for anchoring and another for investigative reporting, exposing the deceit and potential danger of online diploma mills. Tom has ten other Emmy nominations to his credit for investigative and feature reporting. He has won Associated Press Awards for reporting and anchoring. He has won two Addy Awards for excellence in promotional writing. Tom was the first broadcast journalist in Lexington TV history to be awarded the Silver Circle Award by the National Academy of Television Arts and Sciences. It is one of the highest honors given by NATAS. It recognizes television professionals who have performed distinguished service within the television industry for 25-years or more. Tom was honored for more than his longevity, he was recognized for making an enduring contribution to the vitality of the television industry and for setting high standards of achievement. He was also recognized for giving back to the community as a mentor, educator and volunteer. Tom also has network broadcast experience in radio and television having worked as a sports reporter for ESPN, Sportschannel, NBC Sports and the Breeders’ Cup. He was also the studio host and halftime producer for CBS Radio Sports’ College Football Game of the Week and covered the NFL for One-On-One Radio Sports. Prior to joining WTVQ-TV, Tom was Vice-President of the Houston Astros Minor League baseball team in Lexington. He was part of the original management team that brought professional baseball back to the Bluegrass after a nearly 50-year absence. Tom has lived in Lexington since 1984. In that time, he has been heavily involved with dozens of charity and civic groups, with a special emphasis on helping Veterans. He can be reached at tkenny@wtvq.com. You can also follow Tom on Facebook www.facebook.com/TomKennyABC and Twitter @TomKennyNews. Just click on the links at the top of the page.