AP NEWS

California sheriff says inmate started fire that hurt 21

November 6, 2018

SANTA ROSA, Calif. (AP) — Authorities said Monday that a violent Northern California jail inmate barricaded himself in a day room and started a fire that sent five inmates and 16 staff members to the hospital for smoke inhalation.

The Sonoma County Sheriff’s Office said all but one of the injured were released from the hospital, including the inmate thought to have started the fire in Santa Rosa, about 55 miles (90 kilometers) north of San Francisco.

Sheriff’s spokesman Spencer Crum said Bernabe Martinez Ramirez, 27, was in the jail’s segregated unit for inmates deemed unfit for the general population. Crum said guards noticed he was “acting agitated and tying bedsheets to handles of doors in an apparent attempt to keep deputies from entering the day room.”

Crum said Ramirez pulled a pencil sharpener from the wall, placed it in a sock and swung it at guards, preventing them from safely entering the room. Specially trained negotiators spent 40 minutes talking to Ramirez before he started a fire with an electrical outlet, toilet paper and clothing, Crum said.

Crum said the sprinkler system extinguished the fire with minimal property damage. At the same time about 15 guards forced their way into the room and subdued Ramirez amid heavy smoke.

Ramirez was initially arrested June 2, 2017, on charges of felony hit and run, obstruction of officer and attempt to remove a firearm from officer. While awaiting trial on those charges, Ramirez is accused of stabbing another inmate in February 2018 and is awaiting trial on an attempted murder charge for that incident.