Source of courthouse evacuation found

A thick, white smoke filling up the third floor of the Wise County courthouse this morning like a pungent fog prompted a quick evacuation of the entire building. It was reported as a possible chemical spill. As lawyers, defendants, trustees and courthouse employees spilled onto the lawns and benches surrounding the building, a team of Decatur firefighters stormed inside.  About 10 minutes later they discovered the source of the smoke. Someone had smoked a cigarette in the third floor bathroom by the courtroom and put the smoldering butt in the trash can. It soon ignited a few plastic bags, releasing an eye-burning smoke into the hallway and nearby jury room. Firefighters were using fans to swoosh out the smoke. People will be able to re-enter the courthouse and business will resume as usual as soon as the building is fully aired out.

Decatur firefighters in Hazmat gear respond to a possible chemical smoke filling up the courthouse Wednesday morning. Photo by Jimmy Alford.

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