All officers are in stable condition. A police prisoner who was taken to hospital is detained in the critical care unit – his condition is also described a stable.
After all other police officers and support staff made their way from the smoke-filled building, a further nine officers reported feeling unwell and were also taken to the Cayman Islands Hospital for treatment.
Close to three dozen people had to be evacuated from the George Town Police Station Wednesday morning after a fire started inside one of the prisoner cells on the bottom floor of the facility.
According to Cayman Islands Fire Service crews, only one prisoner was inside the cells at the time flames broke out. He suffered smoke inhalation and some burns to the side of his face, firefighters said.
A Royal Cayman Islands Police inspector, who was in charge of the station at the time fire broke out, also had to be hospitalised for smoke inhalation, RCIPS Superintendent Kurt Walton said.
Flames broke out around 10.15am Wednesday in a cell which is located at the back of the police station on Elgin Avenue. The fire sent black smoke billowing throughout the first floor. The smoke then got into the air conditioning system and filtered through the entire building, according to fire officer Richard McLaughlin.
“There’s still a lot of black smoke in the building and we’ve got to clear it out before we can go in and take a look,” Mr. McLaughlin said earlier Wednesday. “All the windows and doors of the building are open because they’re trying to clear out the smoke.”
Mr. McLaughlin said he couldn’t speculate on a cause for the fire, but he noted that the prisoner who was injured was the only one inside the cell at the time the blaze broke out.
Superintendent Walton estimated there were somewhere between 30 and 40 people including police, civilian employees and the prisoner inside the building at the time the fire broke out.
A temporary police station was established in the former vehicle licensing office in Elgin Avenue. Any members of the public who have need to attend personally at the station should go to that location.
In addition, an alternative telephone number for the station was set up to ensure there was no disruption to policing service, and that the public could still call to report non-urgent matters . That number is 943-4311. For emergencies the regular 911 number should continue to be used.
The fire was confined to the cell area and was extinguished by the fire service on arrival. There is some smoke damage to the building and an assessment will be made later today to establish when staff can move back in.
In the meantime, staff have been relocated to nearby Elizabethan Square.