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McCrory: Fire in state building further proof system is broken

Posted January 14, 2013 5:47 p.m. EST
Updated January 14, 2013 6:50 p.m. EST

— At his first press conference last week, Gov. Pat McCrory announced that he and his transition team had found big problems with state building maintenance and the state information technology system.

The two issues merged Friday when a fire broke out in a first-floor server room in the government's Administration Building on Jones Street.

"As I said last week, 'We've got to put out some short-term fires.' I didn't mean it literally," McCrory said Monday after visiting the site with Administration Secretary Bill Daughtridge and Chief Information Officer Chris Estes.

The fire started after a backup power supply overheated and started burning wires in a room that appeared to be a converted broom closet, Estes said.

"You've got a building that wasn't really designed for today's technology," Estes said. "So, it's been adapted, and unfortunately, in the speed to adapt, it wasn't really done with the right ventilation, and that's what caused the issue."

The fire was quickly extinguished by Capitol Police. Restoration crews cleaned up the site over the weekend, but the smell of smoke and burned plastic were still strong Monday.

McCrory said it proves his point that building maintenance and a crumbling IT infrastructure are two of the state's biggest problems.

"This building could have been destroyed, and we could have had loss of life," McCrory said. "That's how broken the system is right now, and this is one of the better buildings that we have in state government."

He pledged to work with his staff to check for similar problems in other buildings and to find money for repairs where they're needed.

"Before we build any new buildings, we've got to take care of some of the existing buildings and make sure they're, first, safe for employees, and make sure we have sufficient security in place for information systems."

Daughtridge didn't yet have an estimate of the cost of the damage from Friday's fire. The state's computer network was not affected.