UPDATE: Fire at Kentucky Center caused by spark during construction

UPDATE: Fire at Kentucky Center caused by spark during construction
The fire was reported around 2:05 p.m. Wednesday. (Source: WAVE 3 News)
(Source: Lynn Elliot-Reed)
(Source: Lynn Elliot-Reed)

LOUISVILLE, KY (WAVE) – A 3-alarm fire at the Kentucky Center was caused by a spark during construction.

Sal Melendez with Louisville fire and rescue gave WAVE 3 News crew the news late Wednesday evening. The information came after an afternoon of questions surrounding the incident at the entertainment venue.

The report of the fire came in around 2:05 p.m. on Wednesday, according to MetroSafe.

When officials arrived at the scene in the 500 block of West Main Street, they discovered light smoke showing from the ceiling area where construction work was underway. Contractors were working on a metal roof with insulating material underneath, according to Louisville Fire and Rescue.

The fire was in a confined area between the exterior of the roof and the interior walls and ceiling structure inside the building, according to Chief Greg Frederick of LFR.

The fire was declared a 3-alarm fire, with 65 firefighters and 10 crews stationed inside and outside of the building.

"The biggest concern right now - one is the roof structure is not obviously a level structure, it's got curvature to it," Chief Frederick said. "It's dangerous for our people to be up there, so we're using caution for that."

Chief Frederick also said he was concerned for his crews' health, given the high humidity levels and potential for high exposure to heat. He said emergency services were on scene to help crews stay hydrated.

The health and safety of the crews was also a concern for those passing by.

"My husband is actually a firefighter for Louisville. So, thank god he's not working today," Louisville resident Shannon Fehr said. "But for me it's just amazing to watch what these guys do and it just looks so dangerous. There's so many guys at the very top of that roof and it's just amazing to see what these guys go through."

There were no injuries reported, according to Chief Frederick.

"We train for this, we have drills for this," Eric Spears, Security Director for the Kentucky Center said. "We have a texting app where we can alert all the staff. We send it out by email. They hear the audible alarm going off, and so folks know where to go, they know their assigned locations. Our job after that is just making sure the building is clear and that everybody is out."

The building was evacuated, per policy, according to officials. The exact extent of the damage is unclear, though Chief Frederick said there will be significant smoke damage to the roof and the interior.

Chief Frederick said there was no "floor" in the area of the fire, so crews were working on scaffolding. Crews were also working with contractors to peel back the layers of the area, some that were combustible.

The roofing project started two years ago because the roof was leaking and needed to be replaced, according to Christian Adelberg, spokesperson for the Kentucky Center. The Kentucky Center budgeted $1.1 million for the project, funded by state funds and insurance.

The outside roof was completed a few months ago, according to Adelberg, so crews moved their work inside. The Kentucky Center doesn't currently know if the work will have to start all over.

Fire crews gave the Kentucky Center the all clear to bring in clean-up contractors and are clearing out the surrounding parking garages.

Louisville Fire and Rescue called control on the fire around 5 p.m. Wednesday. Arson investigators were on scene as standard procedure.

There were no events scheduled at the Kentucky Center for Wednesday. Click here for the Kentucky Center's calendar of events.

The box office and the phones at the Kentucky Center will be closed on Thursday, according to Adelberg. Tickets can still be purchased online.

Adelberg also said a performance group has been scheduled to perform inside the Mex Theater Friday and Saturday nights. They'll determine whether those shows will have to be canceled based on when Kentucky Center officials can get in and see the damage.

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