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Wildfires knock out power at Northern California prison

Around 1,800 inmate firefighters have been battling California wildfires all summer. FILE PHOTO

CRESCENT CITY, Calif. — Pelican Bay State Prison is using generators to power the correctional center for the second week after a wildfire knocked out the facility’s electricity.

According to reports, flames came within a few miles of the facility and also caused poor air quality, prompting officials to issue masks to inmates. As of Wednesday, the U.S. Air Quality Index showed the air surrounding the prison is unhealthy.

Officials say the prison is not any immediate danger from the flames themselves, although the power cannot be fully restored until the wildfires are contained.

About 1,800 inmate firefighters in the California Department of Corrections and Rehabilitation have been battling wildfires all summer.

“They’re the unseen heroes of the firefighter actions in the state,” CDCR Correctional Lt. Brian Sloat, told

Pelican Bay State Prison is a supermax detention center that sits on 275 acres and has a capacity to hold more than 2,300 inmates.

Since it opened in 1989, Pelican Bay has seen a host of problems like hunger strikes, alleged brutality, and reports of extended periods of solitary confinement that have led to several civil lawsuits.

ThThere are currently 1,600 inmates at the facility.