Investigators look for cause of fire at new Sumner County courthouse

Published: Aug. 8, 2022 at 6:34 PM CDT
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GALLATIN, Tenn. (WSMV) - An investigation is underway after a fire broke out at the Sumner County Courthouse under construction on Sunday night.

The Gallatin Fire Department said Monday the Tennessee Bureau of Investigation has joined the investigation.

Flames and smoke fuming into the sky was the view anyone could see in downtown Gallatin on Sunday night, but for Jeremiah Scott, he was right there.

“I actually live right across the street here at the funeral home,” Scott said. “I walked outside, saw the flames coming out of the roof. It almost looked like something out of a movie. It was kind of eerie.”

The fire erupted from the roof of the new Sumner County Courthouse. It’s also right across the street from First Baptist Church where Scott works.

“We got a lot of texts from church members asking, ‘Is the church OK?’ ‘Is there ash over the church?’ “Is there potential to start a fire at the church?’” Scott said.

Fire officials said there was no damage to surrounding buildings. The fire only impacted 30% of the courthouse roof, a roof they believe was struck by lightning.

“We did have storms move through the area,” Gallatin Fire Chief Jeff Beaman said. “We are working with the National Weather Service to determine if there was a lightning strike that did occur in that area.”

Officials said they hope to determine the cause of the fire over the next few days.

As for the building, it was set to open in 2023. Now that date will likely be moved back.

“We have architectural engineers come out and make sure the integrity of the building has not been affected,” Sumner County Mayor Anthony Holt said. “I’m certain that we are going to have to replace a large part of the roof.”

Holt said they want to assure people the cost for the damage will not come from taxpayers.

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