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Courthouse fire ruled accidental

June 8, 2009

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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