Temporary fix: Tarp covers courthouse

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By Jenny Hartley

On the morning of Aug. 4, the sound of the idling diesel engines of fire trucks could be heard around the Lancaster County Courthouse.

On Friday, diesel engines could be heard around the courthouse again. Only this time, they belonged to Hunter Builders' bucket trucks, with workers making the first small step toward preserving and rebuilding the historic courthouse, which was burned by an arsonist.

Workers rose in the air in bucket trucks to place a tarp over temporary trusses on the burned roof Friday.

Emerald Abatement has been working over the past week to remove asbestos from the 180-year-old building. The company plans to finish asbestos removal on Monday, said Lancaster County Administrator Steve Willis.

Once the asbestos is removed, a structural engineer will be able to get inside the courthouse and do a detailed analysis of the fire damage.

"Hopefully, there won't be any cracks (in the brick) from the heat or things like that," Willis said.

Permanent trusses will be special ordered and will match those used in 1828 when the courthouse was built. They'll have to be obtained directly from a sawmill due to their thickness, Willis said.

The Lancaster Police Department, State Law Enforcement Division and bureau of Alcohol, Tobacco, Firearms and Explosives continue to investigate the courthouse fire, and the Aug. 7 arson at the 6th Circuit Solicitor's office across the street.

Police remain tight-lipped about the investigations, and urge anyone with information about the fires to call them.

A reward is being offered for information leading to the arrest of a suspect in the fires. Call Crime Stoppers at 1-888-559-TIPS (8477) or the S.C. Insurance News Service arson hotline at 1-800-92ARSON.

Those with information may also call the Lancaster Police Department at 283-1171 or the Lancaster County Sheriff's Office at 283-3388.

Contact senior reporter Jenny Hartley at jhartley@thelancasternews.com or at (803) 283-1151