The burnt out frame of the historic Morgan County Courthouse smolders Tuesday in Berkeley Springs after water was sprayed on it from a fire engine ladder truck. Firefighters saved many birth certificates, marriage licenses and other records after a fire destroyed the second floor of the courthouse Tuesday morning.

Gov. Joe Manchin, left, talks with Morgan County Circuit Court Judge David H. Sanders and Morgan County Commissioner Bob Ford, right, as they tour the remnants of the Morgan County Courthouse on Tuesday in Berkeley Springs. According to officials, the sheriff's office and County Commission offices next door sustained smoke and water damage in the fire that broke out at about 4:30 a.m. (Photos courtesy of Ron Agnir)

BERKELEY SPRINGS -- A Tuesday morning fire destroyed the second floor of the historic Morgan County Courthouse.

The sheriff's office and county commission offices next door also sustained smoke and water damage in the fire that broke out at about 4:30 a.m. No injuries were reported.

About 60 firefighters -- including some from neighboring communities and states, including Maryland, Virginia and Pennsylvania -- battled the blaze, which was brought under control shortly before 7 a.m.

The roof collapsed into the second-floor courtroom, where the Tuesday morning fire is believed to have started, and the county clerk's office on the first floor was heavily damaged.

Firefighters and residents were able to save about 75 percent of the county records, including birth certificates dating back to the 1800s, marriage licenses, deeds and county maps.

More than 12 other county offices, including the tax department, sheriff's office and County Commission office, were damaged by smoke and water.

The 98-year-old yellow brick Classic Revival structure had heavy golden-oak doors and trim, an arch of glass panes over the double wooden doors and a bell tower. The large second-floor courtroom had two massive oak benches for the judge and clerk, a jury box with original oak chairs and a heavy railing that separates spectators from lawyers.

The current courthouse was dedicated in September 1908 at a cost of $17,908.

More News