Courthouse fire
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Old 11-25-2012   #1
Guanaco
 
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Default Courthouse fire

On May 20, 2009, workers were finishing a $250K exterior renovation of the Jefferson County Courthouse in Madison, Indiana, where we lived at the time. The next weekend would be the 150th annual Old Court Days celebration and the courthouse had never looked better. Late in the afternoon, after all the workers had left, my wife and I were in the alley behind our studio there when we saw a curl of smoke blow above us. Something made me say, "That's not good . . . I hope it's not the courthouse." We took off through the building, out onto Main Street, and to the courthouse a block away, and this is what we saw. We left all of our professional DSLRs in the studio, and had only an iPhone in my pocket. The fire burned for eight hours and took 3 million gallons of water to extinguish. In the second photo, you will notice a small hot spot in the corner of the eave. I showed this photo to a fireman late that night, and the next morning received a visit from the chief, the state fire marshall, and the FBI. They used that image to officially determine the point of origin of the fire -- a worker soldering copper gutter ignited the dry would behind and the small fire became a pinhole into the attic, then a blowtorch because of the draft through the dome, which acted as a chimney for the fire. It was sad and horrifying to watch the clock faces fall off the dome as the fire consumed the entire roof. Fortunately, no one was injured, and the courthouse has since been rebuilt.

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Old 12-01-2012   #2
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Default Re: Courthouse fire

Wow terrible news and in a good way that is awesome that you where able to help out.
Kudos to you. Sometimes having a phone with a camera is the only way to capture something like this cause you are never really prepared. Have they began reconstruction yet?
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Old 12-01-2012   #3
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Default Re: Courthouse fire

Yes, it's been reconstructed. While it was burning, fire crews were bucket-brigading all of the old leather-bound plat books and other records out of the basement. None of the old records were lost, although the basement was completely flooded many times over before the fire was extinguished. The new dome and cupola are fiberglass, however!


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