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Violence, fires mar Kentucky celebration of NCAA win

By Steve Bailey

LEXINGTON, Ky (Reuters) - The University of Kentucky's celebration of its NCAA basketball championship turned violent early on Tuesday, with two shootings and about 65 small fires, a fire official said.

Firefighters witnessed one shooting as they were stopped in an intersection near the campus following their truck's collision with a car, Battalion Chief Harold Hoskins said.

An argument erupted about 100 yards from the truck and a man started shooting, wounding another person, he said.

Firefighters "were seeing multiple flashes flashing in their direction. They didn't like that a whole lot," Hoskins said.

The wounded person was taken to a hospital and Hoskins had no information about the shooter. Another shooting took place away from campus.

Hoskins said 65 nuisance and building fires had been set. He had no information about injuries or arrests, and police were not immediately available to comment.

The partying had been raucous but peaceful until turning violent early on Tuesday. Violence also marred celebrations marking Kentucky's semifinal win over in-state rival Louisville on Saturday.

Lexington police earlier had said they had put out one small fire and reported a handful of arrests and several citations, all for alcohol related offenses.

Thousands of students poured onto the streets surrounding campus, some singing the school fight song, some waving University of Kentucky and American flags. Others snapped pictures and took video to preserve the historic evening.

"This is unbelievable," said Lexington resident and former Kentucky student Dustin Harrison, 33, who came down to campus to celebrate the victory with friends. "I'm just hoping none of that crazy stuff goes on like it did the other night."

Following Kentucky's victory in the national semifinal game over Louisville, at least one car was overturned and burned and several couches were set ablaze near campus.

About 30 people were arrested on Saturday night by police, the sheriff's office, fire emergency services and campus police on charges ranging from alcohol intoxication to criminal mischief and disorderly conduct.

(Writing by Ian Simpson, Editing by Greg McCune)