When the Gong Rings
A Fire History of Charleston, Illinois
212.  FIRE LOG 1974      

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       January 23rd saw some different action for Charleston firemen Jim Bauer and Rex Johns. Two prisoners at the Coles County Jail (was in the old building in 1974). Sheriff Paul Smith said deputies were attempting to transfer the two cellmates to separate cells about 2:45 P.M. when the two barricaded themselves into a cellblock and began "tearing the place up." About 3:10 P.M. the deputies unleashed the tear gas, Smith said. "We had to use the tear gas to get them out." The pungent fumes induced the two prisoners to surrender almost immediately, he said. They were then transferred to separate cells in the north cellblock.



       The names of the prisoners were  not released until after charges were made. The sheriff's offices and quarters at the jail had to be evacuated. Only a little got into other prisoners cell-blocks, and open windows vented them quickly. Charleston firemen were called to the jail immediately after the tear gas was used. Using Scott Air Pacs the firemen installed portable fans to clear the building, but the building had not been cleared by 10:00 P.M. Smith hoped to re-enter the sheriff's office and quarters by 11:00 P.M. The radio dispatching was transferred to the sheriff's office in the courthouse in the interim. Charleston policemen also aided the sheriff's department in handling the incident. No one was injured during the incident. [Picture Below]