County Commission President Connie Hudson said the early morning fire that damaged Government Plaza will be a “minor setback” to operations that occur within the building and ongoing efforts to repair a leaking roof. Mobile firefighters responded to an audible fire alarm at the 10-story building at approximately 3:21 a.m. May 3.
According to a fire department press release, firefighters discovered smoke inside the atrium of the building and discovered fire on the roof at the 8th floor level of the north tower. The fire had breached two windows but firefighters were able to contain the fire to the roof area and prevented its spread to the interior of the building.
A preliminary investigation determined that the fire was caused by a heating process contractors are using to weatherproof the new roof. Team Roofing, Inc., which Hudson referred to as “a consortium of companies,” has been working on the roof since January, replacing leaking glass panels with metal. Team Roofing won a $3.2 million contract for the work last year.
“Because of the construction work there was some flashing being put on the eighth floor roof and there was some smoldering tar and somehow that did ignite at some time after the construction crews left about 7 p.m. (Friday),” Hudson said. “At some point the fire became active and…the fire department did respond and put out the fire.”
A jury assembly room and courtrooms of the state’s 13th Judicial Circuit are affected by a lingering smoke smell while some carpet sustained water damage, she said. No documents appear to have been lost as a result. On Saturday morning, the roofing company was already on scene repairing damage and the county expects to announce any changes to jury schedules Sunday afternoon.
“We are taking [everything] into consideration and notifying people tomorrow afternoon what the plan is for Monday morning,” Hudson said.
No damage estimate was immediately available, but Hudson said insurance agencies representing both the county and the contractor were already involved.
“Our understanding is this is no cost to the county,” Hudson said. “The contractors insurance carrier will cover this. It’s just the inconvenience of having to deal with it for a little while.”
The roof work was originally scheduled to be complete at the end of May. Hudson could not say if the fire would significantly delay the completion.
Updated to included the comments of Connie Hudson.