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Fire in Prison Cell Injures Seven

June 1, 2000

SOMERS, Conn. (AP) _ A fire in a cell at the state’s highest security prison injured three inmates and four guards Wednesday night.

The fire was in a unit of the Northern Correctional Institution that houses about 50 inmates, including the six on Connecticut’s death row, said Christina Polce, a Correction Department spokeswoman.

One inmate suffered burns; his roomate, awaiting trial on capital felony and murder charges in the January shooting of East Hartford Police officer, suffered smoke inhalation; and a third inmate suffered smoke inhalation, officials said.

The four guards were in good condition after being treated for smoke inhalation, said Lee-Anne Sprague, a spokeswoman for Johnson Memorial Hospital.

The fire was quickly extinguished and state police were called to investigate. The cause of the fire had not been determined Wednesday, though state police said it was reported as a mattress fire.

The inmates in the housing unit, known as One East, were moved to another section of the prison for a few hours but were returned to their cells Wednesday night, said Capt. Heather Ziemba, a spokeswoman for the Department of Correction. The prison houses over 300 of Connecticut’s worst offenders. One East has inmates with behavioral problems who are locked in their cells 23 hours a day, Ziemba said.

Polce said the facility’s perimeter was ``secured and reinforced″ Wednesday night and the community was notified through a beeper system that activates in times of emergency.

``At no time was public safety, or the security of the facility jeopardized,″ Polce said.