MARION — A portion of Williamson County Jail was evacuated Wednesday morning after air quality tests found the presence of carbon monoxide in the jail, according to a news release from Williamson County Sheriff Bennie Vick.
Contractors and engineers determined the source of the carbon monoxide late Wednesday afternoon. It came from a boiler that malfunctioned overnight.
All inmates who may have been in the affected area of the jail have been evaluated. At this time, 15 inmates have been treated and released. All correctional staff that may have been exposed either have been or will be assessed, and all staff members who have been assessed have been released.
At about 4 a.m. Wednesday, an inmate contacted corrections staff with complaints of a headache. After an initial assessment, the inmate was transported to a local hospital for a more thorough assessment and treatment. The inmate was treated at the hospital and cleared to return to jail.
As the morning progressed, additional inmates and staff began to complain of headaches or dizziness.
The Marion Fire Department was contacted and asked to conduct air quality tests. These tests determined that there was carbon monoxide in part of the jail. Additional tests determined that only a small part of the jail was affected.
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Inmates and staff were moved from the affected area into areas that did not show elevated levels of carbon monoxide. Medical assessments were conducted, and a small number of inmates and staff were transported to area hospitals as a precaution.
Marion Fire Department and Ameren have checked the building. They advised the jail to go back to normal operations.
The sheriff's office will continue working with the other agencies to monitor air quality in all parts of the jail, according to a Wednesday afternoon news release.
Court cases for inmates have been affected and will be rescheduled. Visitation at the jail is canceled until further notice.
Vick thanked the staff at Heartland Regional Medical Center and Herrin Hospital for their help through this process, along with Marion and Johnston City fire departments, Abbot Ambulance Service and Ameren.