Small Fire Damages Ceiling in Governor's Office

From a Times Staff Writer

The office of California Gov. Gray Davis was the scene of a late-night fire emergency Tuesday, when an overheated light fixture triggered a small fire in a cluster of ceiling tiles, according to the Sacramento Fire Department.

Firefighters were alerted to the emergency in the east annex of the State Capitol Building at 10:19 p.m., when a California Highway Patrol officer noticed smoke coming from beneath the doors of the governor's suite of offices.

Nobody was in the office at the time, but a legislative committee meeting nearby was evacuated.

Firefighters extinguished the fire in about 10 minutes, using only a small amount of water and tearing down a portion of the ceiling, according to a department spokesman.

The fire and its aftermath will not affect business in the Capitol today, authorities said.

Although the fire was small, the building was surrounded by fire equipment, and a CHP helicopter hovered overhead, looking for smoke.

Fire Capt. Dave Whitt said that the fire probably was caused by a ballast unit in a fluorescent light.

"Sometimes older units can heat up and cause a smoldering fire," he said.

Whitt estimated the property damage at less than $25,000.

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