Fire set in trash can at State Penitentiary

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LINCOLN, Neb. — At about 3:15 p.m. on Monday, inmates at the Nebraska State Penitentiary (NSP) ignited a fire inside a trash can, the Nebraska Department of Corrections (NDCS) says. The inmates involved blocked staff members from entering the gallery by tying the doors closed.

The NSP corrections emergency response team (CERT) entered the gallery approximately 28 minutes after the incident began and extinguished the fire, securing inmates in their cells or in the dayroom. Use of force was not necessary as the inmates complied with staff directives. No injuries to staff members or inmates have been reported.

“The NSP team responded quickly and efficiently. They are trained to respond to situations like this,” said Warden Michele Capps. “I am proud of the work they did today and every day to keep people safe.”

Fans were brought in to disperse the smoke. Inmates in the affected area were moved into cells or other areas a safe distance away.

The fire was initially confined to a trash can on one gallery in a housing unit. Inmates continued to toss bedding and clothing and other items causing the fire to spill outside the container. At this point, it does not appear there was any fire damage to the unit, but water damage may exist. The State Fire Marshal has been notified.

Over the last month, NSP staff developed a new schedule of movement for the penitentiary. Recently, the schedule was published to the inmate population. With input from the inmate council and suggestions from the population, staff made adjustments to the original schedule and was implemented today. Activity in the facility today had been normal.

When the incident began, as per procedure, the entire facility was locked down to prevent all movement, NDCS said. No other inmates in the facility were involved in the incident. Staff are working to return the rest of the facility to normal operations as soon as possible.

The inmates involved in the fire were not affected by the new schedule as their movement is limited and did not change.