Jefferson County Courthouse Fire (Madison Indiana)

Get the facts and watch video of the 20 May 2009 Courthouse Fire in Madison, Indiana. Within hours, rumors and eyewitness stories filled the city. The historic Jefferson County Courthouse was the centerpiece of our downtown district and the loss was felt by all who love Madison. In July 2009, the Jefferson County Board of Commissioners met with architectural firms being considered to design plans to rebuild the Courthouse.

Video from the Madison Courier

Video from Miltown Fire & Rescue

Another Video of the Courthouse Fire

Here are the basic facts according to Wikipedia:

On May 20, 2009, the newly painted dome of the Jefferson County Courthouse caught fire. The blaze started around 6:15 pm. Smoke billowed hundreds of feet in the air and flames rose out of the clock tower. The fire continued to burn for hours. Fire officials reported that the fire was tentatively under control just before 9:45 pm. No major injuries were reported. The dome of the courthouse was being painted in celebration of Madison’s bicentennial. On May 28, 2009, the dome was removed from the top of the courthouse in two pieces. They were examined in the alley between the Courthouse and the Jefferson County Jail. Authorities have stated that the cause of the fire was a contractor soldering two pieces of copper together, which caught a wooden part of the dome on fire.

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  1. Ron Grimes says:

    I just viewed your website for the first time. A great job you are doing on it!! Looking at the page regarding the courthouse fire, I noted that the description of the cause of the fire according to Wikipedia is in error. It reads:
    “Authorities have stated that the cause of the fire was a contractor soldering two pieces of copper together, which caught a wooden part of the dome on fire.” This description is not correct.

    The fire actually started at the base of the gable on the north side of the building where a worker was soldering a copper downspout to the roof gutter. The worker attempted to put out the fire with a fire extinguisher and thought he was successful, but the fire smoldered undetected underneath the eaves and roof for nearly two hours working its way up to the dome where it burst into open flames around 6:15 pm. The actions of the worker attempting to put out the fire were documented on exterior security cameras at the jail. An exhibit at the Jefferson County Historical Society Heritage Center documents the fire and the history of the courthouse.

    Ron Grimes, Archivist
    Jefferson County Historical Society
    Research Library
    615 W. First St., Madison, IN. 47250

    Visit us on the Internet at:
    E-mail us at:

    • Anthony Kummer says:

      Thanks so much for the correction. We first wrote this up based on initial reports. So glad you came by to clarify.