Report: Two Inmate Fire Crews Pulled From Duty After Riot

KNBC-TV (Los Angeles), December 14, 2007

Two inmate firefighting crews were pulled away during the height of the wind-driven wildfires that flared across Southern California this fall, after a “riot” broke out on their bus, according to documents obtained Friday.

White and Hispanic inmates began fighting in the back of a crew bus while they were supposed to be fighting the Poomacha fire in San Diego County, according to reports obtained by the Associated Press. Other inmates had to be separated after they moved to join the fight, the reports said.

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San Diego Sheriff’s spokeswoman Jan Caldwell confirmed that deputies were called to the scene by fire captains to maintain order until more prison guards could arrive. The reports say about 10 deputies kept the two racial groups separated after the fighting stopped.

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The two inmate crews were sent to a maximum security prison, while their entire unit was sent back to its base at Gabilan Conservation Camp in Soledad, according to the reports.

Four inmates were administratively charged with “participating in a riot” and sent to segregation cells after the Oct. 27 incident, the reports say. Another 15 inmates faced a lesser administrative charge of “unlawful assembly.”

No employees were involved or injured, and inmates suffered only minor injuries, according to the reports.

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