Oregon County Jail Fire Kills One and Injures Others

September 7, 2007 - Posted at 9:50 p.m. CDT

ALTON, MO-There are still a lot of questions unanswered, especially what caused the fire that started inside the Oregon County Jail, but what we do know at this point, is that a 17-year-old inmate lost his life in the flames.

It all started around 9:40 Thursday night on the third floor of the Oregon County Courthouse.

A jail cell four inmates was in blaze and full of smoke by the time jailers realized what was going on.

Three escaped and were treated at local hospitals, but 17-year-old Jesse Johnson of Mammoth Spring didn't make it out alive.

Back in Fulton County, Arkansas, the word hit hard at Johnson's high school.

"As the students began to find out it was tears, lot of tears from students of all ages."

Angie Kinder taught Johnson at Mammoth Spring High School and remembers him well.

"He was a unique kid because he was sensitive to other people and how they were feeling. So, the other kids picked up on that. He will be missed," said Kinder.

Johnson was a part of several campus organizations including Future Farmers of America, Bears Against Drugs, and the Science Club.

In a statement from the sheriff's department: paper, styrofoam cups, a shower curtain, and a mattress were all found burned in the cell where Johnson was staying.

He was pronounced dead on the scene.

The Missouri State Fire Marshall's office is investigating the fire. Meanwhile the body of 17-year-old Jesse Johnson has been sent off for an autopsy.

It is still unclear exactly why Johnson was in the Oregon County Jail, but we are told his funeral could be as early as Monday.

Meanwhile, students at Mammoth Spring High School are planning a memorial service in his honor.

Stay with K8 News for the latest developments on this story.

Story ideas or comments?  Email Will at wcarter@kait8.com.