Inmates evacuated because of apparent refrigerant leak

Thursday, September 7th 2000, 12:00 am
By: News On 6

McALESTER, Okla.--About 160 inmates and correctional officers had to be temporarily evacuated from a housing unit at the Jackie Brannon Correctional Center after fits of coughing, sneezing and irritated throats.

"There was no sound, no smell, just all of a sudden, the sneezing, coughing and burning in the throat," said Bob Jameson, prison spokesman.

The evacuation occurred Wednesday afternoon.

Jameson said Corrections Department officials and McAlester firefighters believed leaking refrigerant from an ice machine was the source of the irritant. Jameson said the maintenance staff had a combustible gas monitor that registered near the ice machine.

Because the unit is not air-conditioned, inmates in the minimum-security, dormitory style housing unit have access to an ice machine for cooling.