Jim Beam has been fined $600,000 (£458,000) after a warehouse fire sent a 37km stream of alcohol into the Kentucky and Ohio rivers, killing fish and other wildlife.

The distiller agreed to the fine earlier this month following an order from the Kentucky Energy and Environment Cabinet, the Courier-Journal reports.

The fire in July was started when lightning struck a barrel warehouse near the Woodford-Franklin County line.

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It sent flames shooting into the night sky that could be seen for miles and generated so much heat that the lights on fire engines melted.

About 40,000 barrels of ageing whiskey were destroyed, and the runoff poured into nearby Glenns Creek and then downstream into the rivers.

The Kentucky Department of Fish and Wildlife Resources found dead fish along 62 miles of Glenns Creek and the Kentucky River. There were also dead fish in the Ohio River, but Energy and Environment Cabinet spokesman John Mura has described the impact there as “negligible”.

In a comment to the newspaper, Beam Suntory, the Chicago-based spirits company that owns Jim Beam, said, “While we were able to minimise impacts to the surrounding environment and wildlife ... We recognise the regrettable and unavoidable impacts of the incident and have been committed to doing what we can to restore the environment.

“That includes making payments to the state to compensate for time spent, resources utilised and costs to supplement the local fish population.”

Agencies contributed to this report

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