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Courthouse fire ruled accidental

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The fire at the Jefferson County Courthouse May 20 was started accidentally during the soldering of copper downspouts on the roof, officials announced at a press conference this morning.

Investigators from the Madison Fire Department, Indiana State Fire Marshal's Office, and the Bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms, and Explosives said a contractor was soldering two copper downspouts that accidentally started a fire in the wooden sections of the building's roof. The courthouse was in the finishing stages of a massive remodeling project when the fire broke out.

Madison Fire Chief Steve Horton said air carried the fire through the cupola and burned in a concealed area that was difficult to reach. Because of the danger of the cupola and roof collapsing, firefighters were forced to fight the flames from outside the building.

Jefferson County Commissioner Tom Pietrykowski wouldn't elaborate about the cause of the fire because of an ongoing private investigation by the insurance companies. He did say to the best of his knowledge, most of the records taken out of the courthouse have been saved.

"I do not believe we've lost any vital records at all," he said. "We still don't know what was on the third floor, but as far as the lower levels, most of those have been preserved or are being preserved."

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  1. Frankly, it is tragic that you are even considering going to an expensive, unaccredited "law school." It is extremely difficult to get a job with a degree from a real school. If you are going to make the investment of time, money, and tears into law school, it should not be to a place that won't actually enable you to practice law when you graduate.

  2. As a lawyer who grew up in Fort Wayne (but went to a real law school), it is not that hard to find a mentor in the legal community without your school's assistance. One does not need to pay tens of thousands of dollars to go to an unaccredited legal diploma mill to get a mentor. Having a mentor means precisely nothing if you cannot get a job upon graduation, and considering that the legal job market is utterly terrible, these students from Indiana Tech are going to be adrift after graduation.

  3. 700,000 to 800,000 Americans are arrested for marijuana possession each year in the US. Do we need a new justice center if we decriminalize marijuana by having the City Council enact a $100 fine for marijuana possession and have the money go towards road repair?

  4. I am sorry to hear this.

  5. I tried a case in Judge Barker's court many years ago and I recall it vividly as a highlight of my career. I don't get in federal court very often but found myself back there again last Summer. We had both aged a bit but I must say she was just as I had remembered her. Authoritative, organized and yes, human ...with a good sense of humor. I also appreciated that even though we were dealing with difficult criminal cases, she treated my clients with dignity and understanding. My clients certainly respected her. Thanks for this nice article. Congratulations to Judge Barker for reaching another milestone in a remarkable career.

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