Quick response

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, August 11, 1999

stops jail fire


Staff Writer

Sign up for our daily email newsletter

Get the latest news sent to your inbox

Published Aug. 11, 1999

Officers’ quick response kept a fire at the Pike County Jail Monday night from becoming a potentially dangerous situation.

Inmates set two fires in the jail at about 8 p.m. as part of an escape attempt, said Russell Thomas, Pike County Sheriff. The larger of the two fires was on the jail’s first floor, and the other was on the second floor.

Thomas would not release the names of the inmates involved but said one faces a life sentence, and the other is charged with capital murder.

"They were planning a diversion so they could try to escape," he said.

The Sheriffs Department learned of the escape plan just before the fires were set, Thomas said.

"One of our corrections officers was at home and received information just prior to the fires being set," Thomas said. "Jail officers reacted quickly and called for assistance from deputies in the field.

"The fire was extinguished rapidly, and the cell doors were not opened."

Members of the Troy Police Department and Troy Fire Department assisted in the incident.

Their quick action in putting out the fire kept the situation from being much more serious, Thomas said.

"They did a fine job in maintaining a safe and secure environment," he said. Thomas attributed the quick resolution of the problem to jail officers who followed the correct procedure.

Officers at the Pike County Jail must be especially careful when working with inmates because of the jail’s condition.

The jail, which was built in 1957, is not as secure as newer jails, Thomas said. Officers there are in danger from the inmates because of the jail’s design, which allows physical contact between officers and inmates.

"Nothing separates the officers from the inmates except steel bars," Thomas said. "They are not shielded from direct contact."

Being a corrections officer is a tough job because they are often threatened by inmates, he said.

"I am thankful for the jail staff and for the fine job they do," Thomas said.