Jack Johnson Says Courthouse Fire a Tragedy

Prince George’s County Fire Department News Release

A huge fire tore through the historic section of the Prince George’s County Courthouse this morning just as the facility was about to open for business.

Firefighters responded to the courthouse just before 8:30 a.m. When they arrived they found a large fire in the attic and roof of the old courthouse located at 14735 Main Street in Upper Marlboro.

The incident quickly escalated to four alarms, bringing more than 125 firefighters to the scene to control the blaze. Initially firefighters worked to prevent the fire from reaching the new section of the courthouse. Secondary goals included controlling and extinguishing the fire.

Prince George’s County Executive Jack Johnson said that the extensive fire damage to the Duvall Wing of the county Courthouse is a tragedy and he said the structure will be rebuilt. A courthouse has operated on the site since 1720.

“This courthouse is a treasure to the county. We will rebuild this Prince George’s County landmark,” Johnson said. “But in this tragedy, we are so fortunate that no one was seriously injured.”

Fire investigators are working to determine the cause of the fire. A cost estimate of the fire damage has not been determined.

Occupants inside the courthouse were evacuated safely prior to the arrival of firefighters. One firefighter was transported with a minor injury. Two other firefighters were treated on the scene for heat exhaustion.

The Duvall Wing is the original part of the courthouse. It was built in 1881 and at the time of the fire it was under renovation and not occupied by court employees.

The fire did not damage any historic materials or sensitive records. Those materials were removed during the renovation project.

The $25 million renovation project began in May 2003 and was scheduled to be completed in January 2005. The Duvall Wing was connected to the main part of the courthouse where the District and Circuit courts and the State’s Attorney’s office are housed.

The courthouse is across the street from the County Administration Building, which was closed because of heavy smoke and the proximity to the blaze.

Firefighters from Anne Arundel County, Montgomery County, Charles County, Calvert County, Saint Mary’s County, Queen Anne’s County, BWI Airport, and the Naval District of Washington assisted with maintaining fire protection throughout Prince George’s County during this incident.