Wiring causes small fire at courthouse

November 7, 2013

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LUDINGTON — Emergency personnel were dispatched to the Mason County Courthouse about 4:45 p.m. Thursday for a general fire alarm. Employees in the building noticed a strong smell of smoke. Ludington Police Department was first to arrive. Officers reported that smoke was coming from the attic of the 140-year-old building. Ludington Fire Department arrived shortly afterwards.

Employees stood on the courthouse lawn while firefighters investigated. “Luckily it happened the time of day that it did, when the courthouse wasn’t full of people,” County Clerk Jim Riffle said. “We are also lucky that it happened when people were here.” Riffle said a new alarm system was put in the building a couple years ago. That system will automatically contact the maintenance supervisor and Mason-Oceana 911.

Mason County Probate Judge Jeffrey Nellis said that he had a busy day of hearings today and they had just ended. He, along with other courthouse personnel, including judges Richard Cooper and Peter Wadel, along with Prosecutor Paul Spaniola, stood outside waiting to go back in.

Register of Deeds Diane Stark said the smell was very strong in the building, even after firefighters had been there for awhile. She and other personnel were allowed back in the building to get personal affects.

Ludington Fire Chief Jerry Funk said the fire was caused by a short in wiring located in the attic.

“We had to pull some insulation out and open up a hole in the chamber room,” he said. “It just caused a bunch of smoke damage. We used exhaust fans to get a lot of the smoke out.” Funk said the courthouse will be open for business Friday.

The fire department cleared the scene at 5:56 p.m.

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