The Broward County Courthouse was evacuated under the order of Chief Judge Peter Weinstein shortly before 9:00 AM Wednesday morning.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue officials said it was a 4-inch gas pipe that was cut by a backhoe working on a construction project. The gas made some people sick — three people who were in the main jail lobby were transported to a hospital with complaints of nausea, according to officials.
The main jail was placed on lockdown and didn’t accept any new prisoners while firefighters checked each floor of the jail to ensure there was no danger inside the building. Officials stated that due to the fact that it was a windy day, the gas dissipated and did not enter the prisoner area of the jail, and caused no reactions to the prisoners.
I was personally present at approximately 8:45 AM attending a hearing on the 9th Floor in the civil wing. The smell of gas was apparent when first entering the courthouse going through security. The smell became stronger going up the elevators, and was pungent on the 9th Floor. I had made a comment to the judge’s bailiff about the strong odor of natural gas just minutes prior to Chief Judge Weinstein calling down from the 10th floor ordering everyone evacuated from the building.
Fort Lauderdale Fire Rescue’s HazMat team secured the leak while the gas company turned off the gas supply to both the jail and the courthouse. The repair was estimated to be a “day-long” project by the gas company.
The courthouse is scheduled to re-open tomorrow morning for business as usual.