Justice Center evacuated after smoke discovered

LAWRENCEVILLE -- Gwinnett's "law mall" was evacuated Monday, when staffers saw smoke coming from the 500,000-square-foot building as they arrived for work.

Fire crews found light smoke coming from the roof on the north side of the Gwinnett Justice and Administration Center, when they arrived at about 6:53, but they did not find evidence of smoke or fire inside the building.

According to Fire Capt. Thomas Rutledge, the smoke appeared to come from a problem with a broiler unit in the basement. "It appears that a rich oil mixture feeding the furnace caused smoke to travel up the vent to the roof," he said in a press release.

The building was temporarily evacuated, and Rutledge said most employees waited in their cars until the situation was under control.

Staff and citizens were allowed back in the building before official public opening time of 8 a.m., Rutledge said.

In all, four fire engines, two ladder trucks, an ambulance, two support units, a squad unit and two battalion chiefs and a district commander responded to the county courthouse.