Fire forces evacuation of inmates at northwest Missouri jail

Associated Press
The Rolla Daily News

MARYVILLE, Mo. (AP) — A fire that began in a cell at a northwest Missouri jail forced law enforcement officers to evacuate about 20 inmates through smoke-filled hallways, authorities said.

No one was injured in the fire Thursday evening at the Nodaway County Jail in Maryville, which will be closed indefinitely.

Smoke quickly filled the building but employees and officers from other agencies were able to evacuate the inmates, who were cooperative, Sheriff Randy Strong said Friday at an emergency meeting of the Nodaway County Commission.

The inmates are currently being held at Buchanan and Andrew county jails, The Maryville Forum reported. 

Some of the jail's hallways are too narrow to accommodate two people standing side-by-side and doors inmates had to go through need to be unlocked manually. Strong said it "turned into a life or death situation quickly."

Strong called the fire suspicious and said the state fire marshal will investigate the cause.

The jail's sprinkler system was installed before Strong became sheriff in 2016 and "hasn't worked for years," he said.

Commissioners expressed surprise that the jail doesn't have a working sprinkler system and before the meeting ended, work had begun to price a sprinkler system for the building.