WALTHALL, Miss. (WCBI) - The Webster County Courthouse in Walthal is destroyed by fire.
All that’s left are walls.
The inside was gutted by an early morning blaze.
”We were supposed to be here at 9:00 this morning for the third day of the winter term of circuit court,” said Jimmy Forrester, Webster County PIO.
About 100 firefighters, mostly volunteers, from five adjoining counties responded to the 2:20 call, some within 6 to 8 minutes after being dispatched to the scene.
”A person who came in to the post office down here just on the west side of the courthouse came to pick up the mail, and saw the fire and called it in,” added Forrester.
”We woke up and I knew something was wrong when the phone rang that early in the morning. And we actually thought we had a fire in the house because we live so close you could smell it. And when we got to the front door we realized that, what was going on,” said Jim Hope of Walthall.
In the darkness of the early winter morning, embers could be seen going up to a sky filed with snow as the building erected in the early 1915 burned. Total cost to build -$ 60,000. It was a huge budget at the time.
The large auditorium and juror rooms wer home to chancery and circuit proceedings. The names of former lawyers read like a Tennessee Williams novel, Judge T.L. Lamb, Cpt. Fuller Fox, and Col. Sam Cook.
“Its an every day site looking at the courthouse. I was actually doing a history thing on Walthall and kind of digging up all the history about when this was actually built and everything. So, sad to see it go,” said Hope.
So a familiar landmark going up in flames is no more, all that’s left are memories of what once was.
“Yeah, its kind of a quite village here and its just, you know that what Walthall was based on, the courthouse. Its just not going to be the same,” said Hope.
Keep in mind Walthall is the county seat for Webster County, at least for right now.
Fire investigators believe a faulty power surge strip on the first floor of the courthouse sparked the blaze.
Arson is not suspected.
Efforts are underway to preserve records from the courthouse vault by freeze-drying them.
Webster County officials will meet tomorrow afternoon at one o’clock at the Board of Education Office at Eupora High School.
They are working on bringing in portable office space.