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Politics & Government

Abele Wants Courthouse Reopened Quickly, Yet Safely

Marti Mikkelson

Workers are making repairs and cleaning up after a weekend fire at the Milwaukee County Courthouse complex.

The electrical fire was confined to a relatively small area of the Courthouse; however, it caused smoke and electrical damage.

The courthouse and the Safety Building were closed for business on Monday, and will remain closed on Tuesday.

Milwaukee County Executive Chris Abele says he’s not sure when the buildings will reopen. At a Monday afternoon news conference, Abele said he has several priorities as the work continues.

“We’re committed to doing, as always, absolutely everything we can to ensure that nobody’s back in the building in an unsafe way, to minimize any disruption to service, and obviously, from my point of view, we’re also focusing a lot on making sure the taxpayers are represented and we get covered what needs to be covered,” Abele said.

The cause of the fire is under investigation.

On Monday, the Milwaukee Journal Sentinel’s website reported that problems with the building's electrical system had been documented prior to the fire. The article quoted a report from a real estate firm, that said the nearly 50-year-old power system was “approaching or beyond its life expectancy.”

At the news conference, reporters asked Abele whether deferred maintenance was to blame for the fire. He said he’s more concerned right now with getting the buildings open, than he is with placing blame.