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Fire forces Hillsborough jail inmate evacuations

TAMPA — More than 160 inmates were evacuated when an electrical fire ignited inside Falkenberg Road jail early Monday.

It was not immediately clear what sparked the fire, which began just before 1 a.m. and engulfed an electrical panel inside an inmate housing unit of the jail, officials said. Some suspect a lightning strike may have been the cause, as the fire began during heavy overnight thunderstorms.

More than 160 inmates were evacuated. No one was hurt.

Hillsborough County Sheriff's deputies inside the facility used fire extinguishers to tame the blaze before firefighters arrived on the scene, said spokesman Larry McKinnon. The fire was contained to the room in which it began, McKinnon added.

All electricity to the housing unit was shut down during the fire, forcing the Sheriff's Office to relocate all the displaced inmates to another part of the jail. Officials expect the housing unit to remain shut down for several days while engineers determine the cause of the fire and replace the burned equipment, McKinnon said.

The fire was believed to have caused about $5,000 in damage to the facility.

Marissa Lang can be reached at mlang@tampabay.com or (813) 226-3386.

Fire forces Hillsborough jail inmate evacuations 07/16/12 [Last modified: Monday, July 16, 2012 1:27pm]
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