The Howard County Courthouse was evacuated for about 45 minutes yesterday morning after officials noticed a strong gas odor coming from one corner of the building.
Deputies interrupted Circuit Court proceedings, which had just started, about 9 a.m. to say the fire department was on its way to look for the source of the odor.
Employees and spectators were allowed inside after fire officials who inspected the building and took meter readings said they could find no evidence of a natural gas leak and the smell dissipated, according to a fire department spokesman.
The courthouse also continued to dry out yesterday after a weekend sprinkler system malfunction showered two courtrooms and part of the clerk of court's office, county officials said. The water affected four computer work stations in the clerk's office and "ruined" one computer, said Clerk of the Circuit Court Margaret D. Rappaport.
Two courtrooms were affected, but court officials said there was only minor damage.