PENDLETON, Ind. – A fire broke out at Pendleton Correctional Facility Wednesday, forcing authorities to relocate some of the inmates.
The facility is located at 4490 W. Reformatory Rd. Multiple fire departments were called to the scene in response.
Photos from the area showed black smoke billowing into the air. According to officials, the fire started around 8 a.m. in a building that houses a body shop and a mental health treatment center.
One staff member and three firefighters were injured. The staff member received treatment for smoke inhalation and two firefighters were treated and released on the scene, and a third was hospitalized.
There was no threat to the surrounding community.
Prison officials say less then 50 inmates and staffers were evacuated. An emergency count showed all inmates were accounted for and officials stress that public safety was never at risk, which they say was a result of extensive emergency training.
“The volunteer firefighters, and the other paid firefighters, they work in tandem,” said Department of Corrections spokesman Ike Randolph, “there’s a lot of pre-planning that goes on.”
Officials say one prison staffer and a fire fighter went to the hospital for smoke inhalation and two others were treated at the scene.
“I thought it was just a terrible accident, but then somebody told me it was a prison fire,” said Lavon Bustos, who lives near the prison.
At the first sign of something wrong, many neighbors assumed the worst–that this might be the start of a prison riot. Relief came only after the news of what actually happened.
“I just told my grandma to lock the back door, just in case,” said Bustos, “but we feel very safe here.”
The building is a total loss. The State Fire Marshall is investigating what sparked the blaze.