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Minor Damage Reported At State Capitol Following Fire

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state Capitol building

was evacuated Wednesday afternoon after welders working on the roof started a small fire.

Authorities said there were no reports of injuries or extensivedamage to the 1840 Capitol building, which now houses the officesof Gov. Mike Easley. Easley was not in the building at the time ofthe fire, State Capitol Police Officer Charlie Twitty said.

Workers were soldering the copper when wood under the roof beganto smolder, said Raleigh Fire Department Battalion Chief TommieStyons said. The smoke entered the building through the ventilationsystem, according to authorities, prompting fire alarms to soundaround 1:50 p.m.

"It was really smoky on the second floor," said CarolHenderson, the building administrator who was among thoseevacuated.

About a dozen fire and rescue vehicles arrived at the scene.Firefighters climbed scaffolding in 90-degree heat to get to theroof and used fire extinguishers to douse the fire within fiveminutes, Styons said.

The fire was contained to "a very small area," Styons said.

Between 10 and 15 employees in the Capitol and a similar numberof visitors were evacuated, Henderson said. Workers had notreturned to the building late Wednesday afternoon.

"We are so lucky that we have a good fire alarm," Hendersonsaid.

The State Construction Office had hired Polovick ConstructionCo. of Raleigh to make repairs to the Greek Revival-style buildingafter the dome began to leak, causing falling plaster and waterstains on walls. Portions of the building have been closed totours.

Such small fires are not unusual during this kind of solderingwork, said Speros Fleggas, the office director.

The original wooden Capitol building burned to the ground in1831 as workers melted cracks on a new metal roof, Henderson said.The current building, with exterior stone walls, housed theLegislature until 1963, when it moved to their own building a blockaway. The building is now a popular tourist attraction in Raleigh.

Henderson said the wood in the state Capitol building wastreated with turpentine and is highly flammable.

"This is a much happier ending," Henderson said.