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Louisville struggles with 2 crises: Huge GE fire, flooding from storm

Huge fire breaks out at the GE Appliance Park in Louisville, Ky.

More than 200 firefighters battled to control a massive blaze that erupted at General Electric's Appliance Park in Louisville, Ky., on Friday even as city officials also had to cope with flooding from severe storms.

Louisville Mayor Greg Fischer told reporters at a morning news conference that the city was coping with emergencies caused by both fire and water.

“We're currently dealing with two significant emergency issues,” Fischer said at a televised news conference. No injuries have been reported from either, he said.

The fire was reported at about 7 a.m. at GE Appliance Park, Louisville Fire Capt. Salvador Melendez told the Los Angeles Times.

The park is a 1,000-acre facility that is headquarters to GE Consumer & Industrial, the appliances division of GE.

GE makes a range of appliances at the facility, including washing machines, dryers, dishwashers, refrigerators and water heaters. About 6,000 employees work there.

In an e-mail to reporters, GE spokeswoman Kim Freeman said the fire was confined to a building used for offices and storage and is also used by a private supplier distribution center.

The building is partially collapsed, officials said.

The fire is expected to burn through the day and very likely into Saturday, Melendez said. “We’ll have units there through the night,” he said.

The fire “has gone beyond six alarms,” Melendez said. ‘It is probably the worst the county has seen.”

People within a radius of about half a mile have been told to stay indoors, officials said.

There is plastic stored at the burning building, but there is no indication that there is any environmental hazard from any compound or chemical, Melendez said.

Mayor Fischer said the area around the plant has been evacuated and urged drivers to heed police directions in the area and elsewhere in the city as traffic was being shifted because of the high waters due to severe storms.

“Thankfully, there are no injuries or fatalities that we know of,” Fischer said.

“Everybody please stay away” from the fire area, said the mayor. “The roads need to be cleared so we can get there.”

The city has received between six and seven inches of rain since 1 a.m. Friday, causing the flooding, Fischer said.

There have been 163 water rescues and 59 stranded motorists have been helped, he said.

No injuries have been reported because of the flooding.

 

Copyright © 2016, Los Angeles Times

UPDATE

10:09 a.m.: This story was updated with more details from the Louisville fire department.

8:30 a.m.: This story was updated with comments from Louisville mayor.

7:51 a.m.: This story was updated with comments from GE.

This story was first published at 7:38 a.m.

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