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News / Clark County News

Power interruption closes Clark County Courthouse until at least Wednesday

A switch box caught fire causing court hearings to be delayed; Public Service Center is also closed

By Brianna Murschel, Columbian staff writer
Published: July 9, 2024, 3:54pm

The Clark County Courthouse and Public Service Center in downtown Vancouver lost power shortly after noon Tuesday and closed for the remainder of the day.

A switch box caught fire near the corner of West 13th and Franklin streets, between the main courthouse and Public Service Center, causing the outages. Both buildings closed to in-person services.

“The jail administrative offices also were affected,” county spokeswoman Joni McAnally wrote in an email, “but the jail is secure.”

Courthouse officials were unsure Tuesday afternoon whether the building will be open Wednesday.

“It continues to be an unfolding situation,” Clark Public Utilities spokesman Dameon Pesanti said Tuesday afternoon. “Crews are out there right now actively trying to remedy this situation.”

The cause of the fire was unknown Tuesday afternoon. The priority was getting the power back on, Pesanti said, and then the cause will be investigated. The switch box is relatively old, as it was installed in 2001, he said.

“What is most likely to have happened is that it got so hot, it melted the insulator,” Pesanti said. “These things happen.”

The outage affected Clark Public Utilities customers in downtown and uptown Vancouver. At one point, 1,500 customers were without power.

Pesanti said he imagines crews would work through the night to try to restore power.

“With underground, buried (power) lines, it can take longer to repair depending on the damage (compared with overhead power lines),” he said.

All mandatory first appearances Tuesday were rescheduled for Wednesday’s docket, according to the Clark County Clerk’s Office.

The county was adding signage on the courthouse and Public Service Center about the closures and posted a notice to its website, as well as the District Court and Superior Court webpages.

Clark Public Utilities will add updates to its website.

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