Electrical Fire Forces Ottawa County Jail To Shut Down

Monday, October 21st 2019, 7:35 pm
By: Amy Avery

The Ottawa County Jail is still closed after an electrical fire last weekend.

Most inmates were transported to other Tulsa County Jail and some to Craig County while the problem is being fixed. Some of the Ottawa County Detention Officers are even working in the pod where they are being housed in order to help with the transition while they work to fix the damage.

"We've had a lot of issues with the building and that's been an ongoing battle since I've been in office," said Ottawa County Sheriff Jeremy Floyd. 

The Ottawa County Jail was in the beginning stages of built back in 1994 but wasn’t officially dedicated until 1996.

Since then the boiler, locks, and roof have all been replaced, but now the age of the 25-year-old building is starting to show in other ways.

"Now we've got plumbing issues and we've got electrical issues that need addressing," said Sheriff Floyd. 

Some inmates noticed smoke coming from the ceiling on Saturday and immediately called for help. Sheriff Floyd says the fire was out within 15 minutes. 

Investigators believe Saturday's fire was caused by a heating wire that kicks on to keep the pipes from freezing, which was a concern to them since it wasn't cold.

"There's no power to the heating wire unless it hits a certain degree, and we haven't hit that temperature," said Sheriff Floyd.

Sheriff Floyd says they turned the power off and needed to evacuate all 111 inmates.

He called the Oklahoma Sheriff's Association, and within minutes, his phone started ringing.

"I started getting phone calls from almost every sheriff in the state offering resources, bed space, whatever I needed to help deal with the situation,” said Sheriff Floyd.

Most of the inmates came to Tulsa County, while others, who have court dates this week, are in the Craig County Jail.

“Some of the ones we sent to Craig County have court coming up this week, so we wanted those folks to be close for logistics as far as transports,” said Sheriff Floyd.

Tulsa, Craig and Delaware County even sent deputies and transport vans and buses to help.

“We would hope that if we had an issue similar to that, that other counties would step up and assist us as well,” said Tulsa County Sheriff Vic Regalado.

Right now, Sheriff Floyd doesn't know how long the repairs will take, but he is thankful for the agencies who stepped up to help.

"We've got a strong relationship with all the sheriffs, and I'm very thankful for that and without their support and their resources,” said Sheriff Floyd.

Sheriff Floyd says he knows it’s a burden to start talking about a new facility but hopes this could be a consideration as they move forward.

“Being that the building is 20 years old, maybe it's time to start looking at some other avenues to address the issues that we have back here,” said Sheriff Floyd.

Sheriff Floyd met with the insurance adjuster and county commissioners on Monday, but it's not clear yet when the inmates will return to Miami.

“I'm thankful that we didn't have any injuries, and everyone was safely transported and tucked away in Tulsa county without any incidents,” said Sheriff Floyd. “Hopefully when we do that transaction to bring them back everything goes smoothly again just like it did going down.”

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