Smoke clears Hancock County courthouse

Posted Aug. 30, 2011, at 11:20 a.m.
Last modified Aug. 30, 2011, at 1:40 p.m.
County and court employees stand Tuesday morning next to State Street across from the Hancock County Courthouse while waiting to see what caused smoke to appear in part of the building. The courthouse was evacuated and part of State Street was closed to traffic while Ellsworth firefighters were inside the building investigating.
County and court employees stand Tuesday morning next to State Street across from the Hancock County Courthouse while waiting to see what caused smoke to appear in part of the building. The courthouse was evacuated and part of State Street was closed to traffic while Ellsworth firefighters were inside the building investigating.
An Ellsworth firefighter sets up a fan outside the Hancock County Sheriff's Department entrance Tuesday morning after the smell of smoke was reported in the Hancock County Courthouse. The building was evacuated around 10:30 a.m. while Ellsworth firefighters investigated.
An Ellsworth firefighter sets up a fan outside the Hancock County Sheriff's Department entrance Tuesday morning after the smell of smoke was reported in the Hancock County Courthouse. The building was evacuated around 10:30 a.m. while Ellsworth firefighters investigated.

ELLSWORTH, Maine — A smoking, overheating battery caused the Hancock County Courthouse to be evacuated for roughly 45 minutes Tuesday morning.

Employees working near the district courtroom noticed the smoke around 10:30 a.m. and activated the fire alarm. Court employees, county officials, members of the public and emergency dispatchers with Hancock County regional communications center were forced to evacuate the complex as Ellsworth firefighters investigated the cause.

All incoming 911 calls were rerouted during the brief time that the dispatch center was closed.

Chief Richard Tupper of the Ellsworth Fire Department said the smoke was caused by a battery in an emergency light that overheated. Tupper said there was no fire but the department had to bring in fans to ventilate that portion of the building before staff could return.

Ellsworth police officers, whose headquarters is across State Street in City Hall, and members of the sheriff’s department closed State Street to traffic while firefighters were investigating. The building reopened just before 11:15 a.m.

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