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Fire brings Rupp Arena construction to a halt Thursday afternoon

Published: Oct. 8, 2020 at 3:28 PM EDT|Updated: Oct. 8, 2020 at 8:25 PM EDT
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LEXINGTON, Ky. (WKYT) - This afternoon, crews put out a fire that broke out at the Rupp Arena construction site.

Flames were seen coming from the roof of the former convention center building.

“I’m staying at the hotel here, I was watching them do some demolishing work,” witness Paul McDonald said.

The fire had McDonald and construction workers stopped in the tracks. McDonald said he watched from the parking lot. He said he saw a worker pull out a torch and start cutting metal away, and the next thing he knew, flames broke out.

“It was probably 15, 20 feet across the structure up there,” McDonald said.

He said they continued to grow larger, and he was concerned about the flames being right next to the hotel. Attempts to put out the flame failed, he said.

“Some guys on another lift went up and started spraying water up there and then it was pretty insignificant as far as being able to put it out though,” McDonald said.

The $300 million project got back on schedule weeks ago after delays during the pandemic. Fire crews worked quickly to contain the flames.

“You could tell it was significantly growing,” McDonald said.

No one was hurt in the fire, but some in the downtown sky concerned folks eager for the long-awaited center.

Crews were able to continue working this afternoon after the scene was cleaned up.

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