A fire broke out early today in the segregation building of the
RICHMOND, Va. (AP) _ A fire broke out early today in the segregation building of the State Penitentiary, forcing officials to move 89 prisoners temporarily, authorities said.
No injuries were reported in the fire, said prison spokeswoman Kathi King.
Fire officials said the blaze had been set.
Ms. King said a guard detected smoke at 3:10 a.m. in the aging prison’s Building C, and firefighters arrived three minutes later.
The fire was discovered in a 4-foot-wide space between cells that runs the height of the three-story building.
The 89 inmates in Building C were removed from their cells to an outdoor recreation area until the fire was brought under control about 25 minutes later. The inmates were then returned to their cells without incident, she said.
″There was never any concern about an escape,″ she said. ″There was never a threat of escape.″
Ms. King described Building C as ″a prison within a prison,″ which houses prisoners in protective custody, inmates in segregation for disciplinary reasons and those in isolation facing charges.
Ms. King said the fire damaged insulation and there was some smoke and water damage to the building.
She said the origin of the fire was unknown, but Battalion Chief Harold Tyler of the Richmond Fire Department said the blaze was set.
The area where the fire occurred, called the breaks, houses plumbing and heating pipes and often contains trash thrown in by inmates.
The 900-inmate prison was the scene of an April 18 disturbance that left nine guards and one prisoner injured.
The disturbance occurred early on the day of the scheduled execution of James D. Briley, and state Corrections Department officials said the incident was intended to disrupt the execution. Briley was executed at 11 p.m. that evening.