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Fire forces evacuation of downtown Manhattan courthouse

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MANHATTAN — At least 200 detainees had to be moved from a basement onto buses after a fire broke out inside a downtown Manhattan courthouse Friday, forcing everyone in the immediate area to be evacuated while crews fought the blaze and high levels of carbon monoxide.

The fire broke out about noon at 100 Centre St., which houses the New York State Supreme Court and local criminal courts. A source told PIX11 news it appears to have been a transformer fire in the basement. What sparked the fire is unknown and under investigation.

Video from outside the courthouse shows multiple people being evacuated from the building, including a prisoner in an orange jumpsuit, handcuffed and wearing a neck brace.

Along with prisoners, workers and visitors to the building were evacuated.

"All of a sudden, the power went out and within another 10 minutes (I) started smelling smoke and they came over the intercom ... saying, 'Everybody evacuate the building,'" witness Peter Martinez said.

Martinez told PIX11 News the first thought that popped into his head was Sept. 11. That day, he was near the Empire State Building when the attack happened and seeing so many emergency crews rush to a populated scene brought back similar memories.

No injuries have been reported, according to a fire department spokesman.

The blaze was under control but as of 1:45 p.m., the spokesman said. The most significant issue was smoke and high CO levels in the building's basement. The concentration of the potentially fatal gas was so high, emergency crews had to use fans to clear the air.

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