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Fire shuts down Milwaukee County Courthouse

Contractors pass through an entrance outside of the Milwaukee County Courthouse on Monday. A fire Saturday afternoon in a basement utility room of the courthouse and Public Safety Building caused more than a half-million dollars of damage. The courthouse is closed Monday and Tuesday. (Staff photo by Kevin Harnack)

MILWAUKEE (AP) — The Milwaukee County Courthouse and Public Safety Building is closed Monday and Tuesday after a weekend fire that caused more than a half-million dollars of damage.

The Milwaukee Journal Sentinel reported the fire started Saturday afternoon in a large basement utility room with numerous electrical systems inside. It caused a power failure for a portion of downtown, including the responding fire station, which used a generator to open its garage doors and send trucks.

All court cases and jury duty for Monday and Tuesday have been postponed. Anyone scheduled to appear for a court case Monday or Tuesday this week should show up the same day next week. The Milwaukee County Criminal Justice Facility, including the jail, remained open.

911 calls are being fielded by dispatchers at the Waukesha County communications center. Employees who work at the building are being told not to report unless told otherwise by a manager.

Investigators determined the fire was electrical in nature and started accidentally, according to Milwaukee Deputy Fire Chief Aaron Lipski. Crews could not use water, instead dousing the fire with dry chemicals and carbon dioxide extinguishers. Firefighters had the flames under control in less than two hours, Lipski said.

The cost of damage to the building was estimated at $368,000. Property damage inside was estimated at $150,000.

Information from: Milwaukee Journal Sentinel, http://www.jsonline.com

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