There are 358 inmates of the Honduras Prison were charred to death by the fire that ate up the barracks of Honduras Prison – Comayagua National Penitentiary on Tuesday evening, February 14, 2012 (local time).
Most of the inmates who died were locked in their respective of barracks. There are those barracks who were opened during the fire but only few inmates got out because of most them ran into the bathroom where tabs and sink were filled of water.
It was reported that only the prisoner who served as nurse in the prison tried to open the barracks. The prison guard who was in charge of the keys threw the keys on the floor and fled out of panic.
Fire fighters were called 20 minutes after the fire started, and they were held outside the gate of the prison by the guards thinking that there was a riot happened inside the prison after hearing of gunshots from the tower and the commotion of the inmates. By the time they entered the gates, everything were burned already.
One of the prison guard stationed in the watch tower explained, however, that firing guns is an SOP for the guards on the towers as alarm during fire and escapes, but shots should not aimed on the inmates.
There were only eight (8) Prison Police or guards manning the entire Comayagua prison. 4 Prison guards were stationed in the watch towers. 4 other guards were on the ground but 1 guard was stationed at the gate.
The entire Comayagua Prison housed more than 800 prisoners and most of them are still facing charges and not yet convicted. Prisoners were doing agricultural works in the field surrounding the facility such as planting rice and beans. They also raise fishes and chickens.
The Cause of Fire
There are few versions of stories on how the fire was started. But one of the prisoner revealed that there were prisoners fighting over a mattress. The other inmate warned the other that he would burn the mattress if the it would not be handed over to him.
The authorities are still investigating the real cause of the fire.