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Inmates set fire in a trash can at the Nebraska State Penitentiary

December 18, 2018

Inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary ignited a fire in a trash can Monday afternoon and blocked the access of staff for almost a half-hour.

Prison officials said the fire was set about 3:15 p.m. in the gallery of a housing unit. Inmates blocked staff for about 28 minutes by tying doors closed. They tossed bedding and clothing on the fire, causing it to spread outside the trash can, according to a statement released Monday by Laura Strimple, chief of staff of the Nebraska Department of Correctional Services.

No fire damage appears to have occurred, Strimple said. But there may be some water damage. Fans were brought in to disperse smoke.

The state prison’s emergency response team put out the fire after gaining access to the gallery. No use of force was needed in sending the inmates to a day room or their cells, and no staff or inmates were injured, according to the statement.

Warden Michele Capps praised the staff’s work.

“The (penitentiary) team responded quickly and efficiently,” she said.

The statement does not say why the inmates set the fire. But it notes that a new inmate movement schedule was instituted Monday, though that schedule does not affect the inmates involved in the fire.

— Nancy Gaarder

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