Disturbance at Hilo’s correctional center contained after fire, barricades

Updated: Sep. 8, 2020 at 6:52 PM HST
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HILO, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Authorities responded to a disturbance at the Hawaii Community Correctional Center Tuesday afternoon.

A Department of Public Safety spokesperson said the incident began around 3:45 p.m. and was contained by 5:30 p.m.

Hawaii County police say it all started after an affray within the facility that led to a riot and a fire.

“The police department was called by HCCC for assistance in securing their perimeter," said Lt. Todd Pataray with the Hawaii County Police Department.

DPS said responding personnel “used non-lethal means to subdue inmates, gain compliance and bring order back to the housing unit by 5:30 p.m.”

Trisha Gives said she could hear screams from inside the jail.

“The inmates were screaming, yelling, cursing, cussing. Mostly they were screaming, ‘Help! Get me out! They treat us like dogs!’” said Gives.

DPS previously added the incident involved inmates in the A-wing of the Wainuenue housing module. They allegedly set a fire within the building and barricaded doors.

Video sent to Hawaii News Now showed smoke pouring out of the facility with inmates and staff standing outside.

“There are 25 inmates in that housing wing who will all be questioned to determine what prompted the unrest and who was directly involved. Inmates found culpable will be criminally and administratively charged,” officials said.

Crews from the Hawaii Fire Department were dispatched to the scene along with added police and State Sheriffs who were called to assist. An EMS team also responded.

Minor injuries among inmates from the initial fight were reported by county police. Multiple corrections officers also suffered smoke inhalation and respiratory issues from the fire.

“All the credit goes to the HCCC Warden and his staff for acting swiftly to mobilize their emergency response team and to bring order back to the facility,” said Maria Cook, Deputy Director for Administration “We would also like to acknowledge the Kulani warden, and her staff, as well as the State Sheriffs, Hawaii Fire Department and Hawaii Police Department for their assistance.”

An assessment of damage within the building is underway. Officials added that the PSD Institutions Division Administrator is enroute to Hilo to get a better idea of the overall situation.

Inmates and correctional staff are undergoing a full medical evaluation.

This story will be updated.

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