Cause of Northumberland County Prison kitchen fire to be determined today
SUNBURY - A kitchen fire broke out inside Northumberland County Prison on Saturday night.
Russ Wertz, second assistant chief of the Sunbury Fire Department, said a fire that ignited on a prep table was extinguished with a fire extinguisher.
No one was injured, he said.
Wertz said there was cardboard lining the table and explained that there is electrical wiring around it. However, a cause is pending investigation by a state police fire marshal who is expected on scene this morning.
The fire was reported to Northumberland County 911 at 8:35 p.m. It caused heavy smoke in and around the kitchen, which is in the building's basement. Exhaust fans were used to ventilate the area. Firefighters were on scene about 90 minutes. City police officers were also on scene.
Inmates on the south side of the building were pushed to the north side, Wertz said. Rick Shoch, Northumberland County commissioner, who was on scene, said female inmates were moved to the prison's law library, and he believed some inmates were in the yard.
Some inmates could be heard yelling and howling about 9:30 p.m.
All inmates were returned to where they belonged inside the prison shortly after 10 p.m., Shoch said.
The kitchen area was secured and a food vendor was on scene to check the prison's supplies and dispose of any food exposed to the smoke. Shoch said county and prison officials were working with the vendor to get additional rations.
Snow that had blanketed the area slowed response a bit, Wertz said; however, turnout by the department was "great." Wertz said the fire department had a tour of the prison in the fall and were familiar with the layout.