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Fire Service Maintains Vigilant Due to Latest Prison Fire

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Contact: John Emmanuel

Wednesday, June 12, 2002 - The St. Lucia Fire Service says it will continue to maintain a watching brief following two separate fires within the confines of the island’s Royal Gaol on Wednesday, June 12, 2002. Chief Fire Officer Augustine Gaspard says quick action on the part of his men coupled with full cooperation on the part of the police, prison officers and some prisoners, led to Wednesday’s blaze being contained in record time.

According to Gaspard, the first call came in at about 9:10 a.m. requesting an ambulance for an inmate at Her Majesty’s Prisons. At about 9:17 a.m. he says the department received another call requesting assistance in bringing a fire at the prisons under control. “My men responded in full force and found one area with a small shed that was engulfed in flames. Given the extremely violent nature of the prisoners there it was difficult to penetrate the area and that fire kept ablaze for a while,” said Gaspard. He related that another fire in the main yard which houses a tailor shop was also raging and with assistance from the Special Services Unit (SSU) was quickly brought under control.

“I don’t believe that it’s all the prisoners involved. Quite a number of them assisted us in getting the fires under control and because of that assistance we were able to deal with them very quickly although some inmates pelted us with stones. Quite a bit of stones were coming from these violent guys”, commented Gaspard.

The Fire Chief says earlier talks with prison officials had placed him and his men on full alert concerning a possible riot at the jail. “I must confess that before today the prison chief had already called me and informed me of some skirmishes inside the prisons and suggested that we be on the alert and from since last week we have been on the alert,” said Gaspard

Prisoners are due to be transferred in phases to the multi-million dollar Dennery-based Bordelais Correctional Facility later this year.


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