Seven inmates and seven staff members were evacuated yesterday morning from a wing at the Patuxent Institution in Jessup, Md., when a fire caused heavy damage to some administration offices and the facility's hospital area, a spokesman said.
There were no injuries or escapes resulting from the two-alarm fire, the spokesman said. The inmates were moved to cells in another building in the complex.
The Patuxent Institution is a maximum security facility housing about 600 prisoners, many suffering from mental disorders. About 400 staff members work at the facility, located 30 miles northeast of Washington.
A spokesman said the cause of the $40,000 fire had yet been determined. However, Howard County fire marshall Gary Wood said arson had been ruled out.
The blaze broke out about 10 a.m. in the visiting room of the hospital's diagnostic center, located in the basement of the building. Smoke spread through several floors, causing heavy damage to the building's interior.
"The biggest problem fighting the fire," said a Patuxent spokesman, "were the bars on the windows, which fireman had difficulty getting off."
The fire was contained in the visiting room, and brought under control about one hour later. Howard County fire officials estimated the cost of the damage at approximately $40,000.