Two inmates charged with arson in cell blaze at Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre in London

Firefighters were called to the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre Thursday night after materials in a jail cell were set ablaze. One guard had minor injuries. DALE CARRUTHERS/THE LONDON FREE PRESS

Two inmates have been charged with arson for allegedly setting a cell ablaze at London’s provincial jail.

Police confirmed the charges Friday against the two unnamed men, both of them inmates at the Elgin-Middlesex Detention Centre.

Emergency responders were called to the Exeter Road jail Thursday around 9 p.m. A mattress, bedding and papers were set on fire inside a cell, said Rick Jefferson, a spokesperson for the London fire department.

Damage is estimated at $500.

A spokesperson for the Ministry of Community Safety and Correctional Services said one guard had minor injuries and no inmates were hurt.

“When the fire was detected, correctional staff acted quickly and moved inmates out of their cells temporarily. Firefighters attended the facility and the facility was cleared of smoke,” ministry spokesperson Andrew Morrison said in an email, adding the inmates were returned to their cells before midnight.

Const. Sandasha Bough said one of the men is also charged with resisting arrest and assaulting a peace officer.

More than a half-dozen fire trucks, two police cruisers and two ambulances were dispatched to the south London jail.

Paramedics didn’t transport anyone to hospital, said a duty manager for London EMS.

The problem-plagued EMDC has a history of overcrowding, lockdowns, drug use and violence — troubles that often make it to the floor of the Ontario legislature.

Most recently, in October, a 27-year-old inmate died and his cellmate was rushed to hospital after overdosing on an illegal drug.

The deadly overdose sparked a debate about why EMDC still hasn’t been equipped with a body scanner that can detect weapons and drugs. The province promised last spring to would install one within two years.  

dcarruthers@postmedia.com

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Source: Guard injured in jail fire, inmates charged | The London Free Press