Cubicle fire causes damage to multiple floors of Galveston County Justice Center

The Galveston County Justice Center after a small fire on Saturday, July 10, 2021.
The Galveston County Justice Center after a small fire on Saturday, July 10, 2021. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

HOUSTON – A small fire that broke out in an office cubicle caused water and smoke damage to multiple floors of the Galveston County Justice Center, authorities said Monday.

The building will be closed until Wednesday, July 14, and jury duty is canceled through the end of the week, District Clerk John Kinard said.

The fire suppression system in the building located in the 600 block of 59th Street in Galveston helped keep the fire under control and kept fire damage to a minimum.

Image of the the Galveston County Justice Center after a small fire. (Copyright 2021 by KPRC Click2Houston - All rights reserved.)

The fire happened about 9:45 p.m. Saturday in a cubicle of the District Clerk’s Office on the third floor of the Galveston County Justice Administration Center.

Galveston Fire Chief Charles Olsen said the building’s fire suppression system kicked in and kept the fire under control in the area when it started.

When Galveston fire crews arrived, it took a while to find the location of the fire, the chief said.

When it was located, firefighters did have to hose down the location to put the fire out, Olsen said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation, Olsen said.

There is an initial indication that the fire may have been electrical in nature.

While the fire itself was small and isolated, there was smoke and water damage on the first three floors of the building.

There is also smoke damage on the fourth floor, county Communications Director Zach Davidson said.

A damage remediation company -- already hired through a pre-positioned contract -- is assessing the damage to the building to determine the extent of the repairs, Davidson said.

“We have existing jurors that are scheduled to report later in the week. They are not canceled yet,” Kinard said. “The judge of that court will make a determination and we will notify them via text, email or phone call.”

Officials were scheduled to meet with cleanup crews Sunday and possibly again Monday to determine how much time will be needed for the cleanup.

How long the center will be closed for cleanup was uncertain on Sunday.


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Amanda Cochran is an Edward R. Murrow award-winning journalist. She specializes in Texas features, social media news and local crime.