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Prison in flames as inmates vent their fury over virus lockdowns

Prisoners have lit at least three fires in 24 hours in a southeast Queensland jail locked down for five days due to a COVID-19 outbreak.

Sep 01, 2020, updated Sep 01, 2020
Fire crews at the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre where numerous blazes have been lit by inmates over the past 24 hours (Photo: ABC).

Fire crews at the Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre where numerous blazes have been lit by inmates over the past 24 hours (Photo: ABC).

Queensland Corrective Services said blazes were lit inside cells at Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre, southwest of Brisbane, on Monday.

The first fire in the morning was put out by prison officers with five inmates suffering smoke inhalation.

A second fire was lit in the afternoon, which was also put out, and a third blaze was set late on Monday night, which officers also dealt with.

QCS says a number of additional inmates and an officer were treated for smoke inhalation.

“Officers from Arthur Gorrie Correctional Centre have been praised for their professionalism and resilience in dealing with a complex situation,” QCS said in a statement.

More than 1000 inmates are at Arthur Gorrie, which has capacity for 890 prisoners.

They have been kept in their cells for the past five days after Queensland’s Chief Health Officer ordered a lockdown of prisons to stem the local virus outbreak.

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Another 6000 inmates in jails from the central coast to southeast Queensland also remain confined to their cells.

Corrections workers union secretary Alex Scott expressed concern last week that the lockdown would lead to more violence against prison workers, but he conceded it was the right decision to stem the outbreak.

Arthur Gorrie is directly linked to the 27-case COVID-19 cluster in the state’s southeast after two staff contracted the virus following a visit to the QCS Academy at Wacol.

The academy, where a senior trainer was diagnosed with the virus on Thursday, is at the centre of the state’s outbreak.

-AAP

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