Firefighters extinguish small fire at Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center

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Post updated at 8:53 a.m. Wednesday, Jan. 24:

First responders with Lawrence-Douglas County Fire Medical put out a small fire that caused a “significant amount of smoke” in the basement of the Douglas County Judicial and Law Enforcement Center Tuesday night.

The building at 111 E. 11th St. in downtown Lawrence houses the Douglas County District Court, court clerk, district attorney’s office, Emergency Communications Center, parts of the sheriff’s operations and more.

There were no injuries reported, according to a news release from LDCFM early Wednesday.

First responders were dispatched to the fire at 10:49 p.m. Tuesday. Crews who arrived first at the scene entered the basement of the building, where they found “a significant amount of smoke,” according to the release.

“Following a thorough search in low visibility conditions, firefighters located a fire that was contained by a single activated fire sprinkler head,” according to the release. “Extinguishment was completed and the rest of the structure was searched to check for fire extension and to ensure that no victims were present.”

LDCFM investigators determined overnight that the fire was accidental, caused by an electrical/mechanical malfunction of a fan that was left on in the jury deliberation room for the Division 7 courtroom. The room recently saw water damage from a sprinkler head that was damaged during the recent extreme cold weather, and the fan was blowing to help with the drying process, according to the release.

Employees of the Emergency Communications Center continued to operate throughout the fire incident, receiving incoming 911 calls and dispatching resources as appropriate, according to the release.

“Dispatchers monitored ongoing fire operations in the building and worked through an audible fire alarm which remained activated for an extended time period,” according to the release.

The basement of the JLEC houses the court clerk’s office, two courtrooms and more.

“LDCFM would like to highlight the effectiveness of properly designed and installed fire sprinkler systems in containing fires and reducing overall damage and interruption to business operations,” the release stated.

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