Post-game revelry in Lexington turned to destruction and fire-setting Saturday night as University of Kentucky fans swarmed the streets surrounding campus, prompting police in riot gear to move in.
College antics in alcohol-fueled celebrations of UK's Final Four victory quickly escalated, as young people set couches and two cars ablaze and hurled beer cans into clusters of party-goers.
Firefighters responded to about 50 nuisance fires, mostly couches set afire on purpose, according to Battalion Chief Ed Davis of the Lexington Fire Department. Ten people were injured, he said.
Two car fires were set on State Street.
A spokeswoman for the city said several people had been arrested, though the number remained unclear. There had not been any mass arrests, she said.
Alcohol was everywhere and bottles smashed throughout the area.
Police in riot gear patrolled the party areas and sprayed fire extinguishers on fans who attempted to damage vehicles.
Police attempted to clear the street, moving in twice by 10:20 p.m., but it wasn't until about 11 p.m. that the crowd began to disperse significantly.
Before then, revelers climbed on car tops, flipped three vehicles on State Street to the cheers of others and attempted to flip others while fans chanted "Cats, Cats, Cats."
UK and Lexington police — expecting a rowdy night — had increased patrols on campus and prepared to close streets in party areas. A triage center was opened at a fire station on Woodland Avenue.
Authorities issued an advance warning to fans that fires and vandalism would result in arrests, but parties and drinking started early.
"They try to flip a car. Police push them off and they try to flip another one," said Logan Johnson, a UK freshman. "It's pretty crazy. We are going to the championship. I don't blame people."
UK junior Michael Soto said he had never seen anything like it.
"Bourbon Street doesn't have anything on State Street," he said.
Joey Frederick, who joined the revelry in Lexington, said Saturday's win warranted a party on campus. "We are the best team in America," he said. "I think houses should burn."
…In stark contrast, about 100 University of Louisville students gathered peacefully on Cardinal Boulevard after the game, cheering as though their team had won.
"They had to fight for it," said Tombo Owen, an 18-year-old freshman who waved a U of L flag within the mass of fans.
"I've never been more proud to be a U of L student," said Charles Leonard, a 20-year-old sophomore. "They played their hearts out. You can't ask for more."
Demetrius Ellery, 36, watched the game at the Cluckers restaurant in Cardinal Towne, along with many other fans.
Ellery said he thought the Cardinals didn't play well enough to win — and he wished Kentucky the best in the national championship game.
"Why shouldn't we be happy for the other team?" he said.