10/08/2012 - Fire Investigated at Jail

On October 7, 2012 around 9:23 PM a fire was detected in a cell inside the Spartanburg County Sheriff’s Office Detention Center. The fire was quickly put out by detention center personnel. There was minimal damage to one cell that housed three inmates and there were no injuries to any inmates or detention center personnel. The preliminary report to the media shortly after the incident occurred indicated that the possible source of the fire was inmates using matches that had set a trash can on fire. However, after a complete investigation into this incident it is believed that the fire was started in a vent in the cell by an inmate that was using a “wick”. A wick is described as tightly rolled up toilet paper that an inmate will light on fire, usually by utilizing a smoking coil located on the recreation yard. The inmate then takes the “wick” back to their cell to use to light a cigarette during the time

they are confined to their cell. The “wick” is hidden in the air vent in the cell and may sometimes fall back into the duct work and ignite material in the duct work. A “wick” is contraband and when discovered is confiscated by detention center personnel.

The three inmates in the cell at the time of the fire, Steven Gilstrap, James Hayes and Benjamin Williams have been placed in lockdown in another part of the detention center. From the time the fire was reported at 9:23 PM until 12:30 AM this morning the detention center was on lockdown. The lockdown has since been lifted and normal daily operations have resumed. Investigators have spoke with each of the three inmates and none of them claim to know who or how the fire started. At this time no charges have been filed against anyone in connection with this fire. The Investigation into this fire is ongoing.