SAVANNAH, Ga. – Two inmates at the Chatham County jail in coastal Georgia got burned by their own smoking habit when they started a fire trying to light a handmade cigarette with a spark from an electrical socket.
Both inmates were treated for minor burns after their cellmates quickly doused the fire with water, Sheriff's Deputy Ron Robinson said Wednesday. He said the jail banned smoking more than a decade ago, but it hasn't stopped inmates from improvising.
"Some of these guys have serious habits and cravings," Robinson said. "They try to smoke a lot of things ... lettuce, collard greens, turnip greens, whatever was served to them at lunch that day."
Jailers suspect the inmates tried to light up by sticking pencil lead into a wall socket in their cell, creating a spark that ignited a piece of cloth they intended to use as a match, Robinson said.
The burning cloth ended up catching fire to a sheet on a nearby bunk. While the fire was quickly extinguished, smoke spread throughout that section of the jail. All 23 inmates in the pod where checked by the jail's medical staff for smoke inhalation, but none were hurt seriously, Robinson said.
The sheriff's department would not release the names of the inmates suspected of starting the fire early Monday. Robinson said they would likely face in-house disciplinary action, but not criminal charges.
Meanwhile, he said, jailers have stepped up cell inspections to reduce the chances of another illicit smoke break turning into a fire alarm.