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Smoke from heating system forces jail, justice center evacuation

Posted on Wednesday, January 8, 2014 at 5:40 pm



Manchester firefighters search for the source of  smoke that required the evacuation of the jail Wednesday (Staff photo by John Coffelt).

Authorities evacuated the Coffee County Jail and Justice Center after smoke from the ductwork filled the building late Wednesday afternoon.

Inmates were placed in a fenced in area behind the jail while firefighters with the Manchester Fire Department searched the building. According to Coffee County Sheriff Steve Graves, toilet paper sent through the ductwork “probably caused” the building to fill with smoke.

“That’s what we think it was,” explained Graves. “Inmates roll up toilet paper and send it through the ducking system and probably caused it to smoke up.”

Graves added that his department has been able to narrow it down to one cell where the problem could have originated.

“We isolated it to one cell but that one cell has 26 people in it so it is hard to single a person out but we are continuing to investigate.”

Graves said that charges could be filed.

The Manchester Police Department aided the sheriff’s department securing inmates and returning them to the building.

“The Fire Department did a good job making sure everything was safe and I was very pleased with how our officers and Manchester officers handled the situation,” said Graves.