A massive fire broke out at a vacant warehouse in the Smoketown neighborhood of Louisville, Kentucky, on Monday afternoon, causing part of the building to collapse and sending plumes of smoke into the air. The fire also damaged a nearby facility that provides food to people in need. Here are some of the latest updates and details on the incident.
The fire started around 4:20 p.m. at a four-story warehouse at the intersection of South Jackson and Caldwell Streets1. The warehouse was owned by Wayside Christian Mission, a nonprofit organization that helps homeless people, and was used for storage. No one was inside the building at the time of the fire, and no injuries were reported.
The fire quickly grew to a three-alarm blaze, requiring more than 60 firefighters and 20 fire trucks to respond. Within half an hour, parts of the building collapsed as firefighters worked to put out the flames. Firefighters had evacuated the building shortly before the collapse, after noticing signs of structural instability.
The fire was brought under control by 7 p.m., but crews remained on the scene overnight to monitor hot spots and prevent flare-ups. The cause of the fire is still under investigation by arson investigators, who are relying on outside footage like Ring doorbells, as the structure is too unsafe to enter.
The fire had a significant impact on the surrounding area, as smoke and debris filled the air and streets. Residents were advised to avoid the area and close their windows and doors to prevent exposure to smoke. Some nearby businesses and homes also lost power due to the fire.
One of the buildings that was damaged by the fire was Loaves and Fishes, a nonprofit organization that serves food to people in need. Curtis Taylor, who runs Loaves and Fishes, said his building suffered smoke and water damage, and a van he used often was destroyed by debris. Taylor said he was just preparing food for two needy families before the fire broke out.
"I’m just down, not fully over, but down," Taylor said. "I do have total faith."
Wayside Christian Mission also expressed their devastation over losing their warehouse, which they said contained donated items such as clothing, furniture, appliances, books, toys, and more23. They said they had recent issues with people breaking into the warehouse.
"It’s just gut wrenching, you know. It’s just unbelievable," said Nina Moseley, chief operating officer of Wayside Christian Mission.
Despite the loss and damage caused by the fire, both Loaves and Fishes and Wayside Christian Mission said they are determined to continue their missions of helping people in need. They said they are grateful for the support they have received from the community and the firefighters who risked their lives to fight the fire.
"We’re pretty devastated, but we’re not going to let it stop us," Moseley said. "We’re going to keep moving forward."
Taylor said he hopes to rebuild his facility and resume his service as soon as possible. He said he believes that something good will come out of this tragedy.
"God has a plan for everything," Taylor said. "He’s going to make something beautiful out of this."
The fire also highlighted the importance of fire prevention and safety measures for older buildings in Louisville. Louisville Fire’s Battalion Chief Bobby Cooper said fire prevention officials were alerted to potential hazards at the warehouse back in December of 2022, and were working with Wayside Christian Mission to make structural improvements. He said knowing the risks of the building likely saved the lives of firefighters.
"The critical part is for our firefighters to know what kind of buildings they are and what hazards they present," Cooper said. "Beyond the fire ground is where the life-saving work really began."
Cooper urged building owners and occupants to comply with fire codes and regulations, and report any suspicious activity or signs of fire.
"We want everybody to be safe," Cooper said. "We don’t want anybody to lose their property or their lives."