Fire struck the third floor of the Pasadena courthouse forcing cases to be moved elsewhere. Photo via OnSceneTV
Fire struck the third floor of the Pasadena courthouse forcing cases to be moved elsewhere. Photo via OnSceneTV

An early morning fire on the third floor of the Pasadena Courthouse caused major disruptions Monday at the facility, with some cases transferred to other courthouses and others shifted to different courtrooms.

The fire was caused by “spontaneous ignition of oil soaked rags,” said Lisa Derderian of the Pasadena Fire Department. The rags formed a chemical reaction which created heat of its own in the rags, Derderian said.

Three fires in Pasadena this year have been caused by oily rags, Derderian said. The others were at a residence and a business.

“It’s a common cause of fire,” Derderian said.

The fire destroyed the panel which controls the building’s air conditioning, Derderian said.

Derderian said she wasn’t sure when the air conditioning would be fixed. The damage caused by the fire would likely not be cheap, she said. She had no figure available today on the damage estimate.

A fire alarm went off at 1:30 a.m. on the third floor of the courthouse at 300 E. Walnut St. The flames were out at 1:45 a.m., Derderian said.

A firefighter was treated at the scene for exposure to potentially hazardous chemicals, and a hazardous materials team was called to ensure there was danger to the public.

Walnut Street was shut down while fire crews worked the scene, as were Garfield and Euclid avenues adjacent to the building, Derderian said.

With part of the building off-limits due to the fire, criminal cases involving defendants in custody were transferred to downtown Los Angeles.

Juvenile delinquency cases involving in-custody youth were transferred to the Eastlake Courthouse, 1601 Eastlake Ave., Los Angeles. Civil and family law matters and all other criminal and juvenile hearings were heard in six courtrooms in the west wing of the courthouse.

According to the Los Angeles Superior Court’s public information office, the location changes will remain in effect on Tuesday.

On Tuesday, cases that are not transferred to other courthouses will be moved as follows:

  • cases in Dept. A will be heard in Dept. P;
  • cases in Depts. B, C and D will be heard in Dept. R;
  • cases in Depts. E, F and G will be heard in Dept. O;
  • cases in Depts. H and J will be in Dept. N;
  • cases in Depts. K and S will be heard in Dept. L; and
  • cases for non-detained minors scheduled in Depts. 270 and 271 will be heard in Dept. M.

All traffic matters are being handled as usual, and the clerk’s office is functioning normally, court officials said.

—City News Service

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