Oregon County Jail Fire Kills One Prisoner

ALTON, MO - A fire at the Oregon County jail in Alton last night has claimed the life of a teenage prisoner, while five other prisoners were injured.

According to Sheriff Tim Ward, the jailer was alerted at 9:40 p.m. by the yelling of prisoners and the sound of a fire alarm.  Upon checking the cell pods, the jailer discovered thick smoke and then requested assistance from emergency responders.

When firefighters arrived approximately five minutes later, smoke was so thick in the building that responders had to use breathing apparatuses before entering.

The sheriff says authorities found evidence of a possible intentional fire started in the cell where the fire began.  "In the corner of a wall and shower some paper, styrofoam cups, pieces of bible, mail, shower curtain and mattress were burned," according to a release from Ward.

The occupants of the cell, identified as 19-year-old Cody Davis, 22-year-old Robert Huff, and 18-year-old Nicholas Pacheco were all taken to a Springfield hospital for treatment of their injuries.  Meanwhile, another prisoner identified as 17-year-old Jessie Johnson of Mammoth Spring was pronounced dead at the scene.

Meanwhile, two prisoners in another cell were also injured.  Timothy Martin, 47, and 51-year-old Rodney Reed were treated at the Ozark Medical Center in West Plains.

An autopsy will be performed on Johnson.  Meanwhile, the Missouri Fire Marshall's Office is investigating the fire, which was battled by fire departments from Alton, Thayer, West Plains and Rover.