A wind-blown fire gutted the nearly 300-year-old Prince George's County, Maryland courthouse Wednesday, but was beat back before reaching a modern wing where records are kept and trials are held. The old courthouse had been undergoing a $27 million renovation; hose taps and sprinklers in the old building had been disconnected by workers.
Luckily, all the courthouse's records that are used by genealogists and many others had been moved out of the building and into the adjacent new courthouse before construction started. Those records were undamaged. However, one shudders to think "what could have happened."
You can read the full story at http://www.cnn.com/2004/US/11/03/court.fire.ap/index.html
My thanks to June Byrne for telling me about this story.