Milwaukee County Buildings Remain Closed Following Fire


The Milwaukee County Courthouse and County Safety Building will remain closed tomorrow following an electrical fire over the weekend.

The fire has stirred some debate over whether the current and former Milwaukee County executives put off proper maintenance of the buildings.

Saturday’s fire in the courthouse basement did not injure anyone, but has caused more than a half-million dollars in damage. Courtrooms and other offices in the courthouse and adjoining Safety Building have been closed while safety teams check air quality, wiring and other issues.

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A consultant’s report earlier this year said the electrical system in the courthouse is very old and recommended replacement. Some county supervisors say Gov. Scott Walker should have spent more on maintenance when he was Milwaukee County executive, but current county executive Chris Abele is not blaming the governor or himself.

Abele: “Every county executive who has ever been in office has probably inherited some deferred maintenance. People care less about whose fault it is; they care that we catch up on it.”

Hundreds of people who work in the courthouse were told to stay home, but are being paid. Abele says some of the employees are working on contingency plans for the next day or two, or are doing work-related e-mail. He says he hopes others get outside and enjoy the weather.