Local News

Sheriff: Inmate Started Fire in Lee County Jail

Posted February 14, 2008 5:00 p.m. EST
Updated February 14, 2008 6:29 p.m. EST

— An inmate alone in his cell started a fire at the Lee County Jail around 2 p.m. Thursday, according to the sheriff's department.

Tony Wade Johnson, 42, set fire to paper articles and then got his mattress to catch on fire, Lee County Sheriff Tracy Carter said. Johnson probably used a lighter and was alone in his cell.

The smoldering fire spread a lot of smoke, forcing approximately 90 percent of the jail to be evacuated, Carter said. Inmates have since returned inside the jail.

Some people inside the jail reported smoke inhalation. Two jail officials and one inmate were treated at Central Carolina Hospital in Sanford but were expected to be OK, Carter said.

Johnson will appear in court Friday morning to face charges stemming from the fire. He might be charged with multiple counts of attempted murder, Carter said.

Johnson, who awaiting sentencing on charges of impersonating an officer, second-degree kidnapping and second-degree assault, will be transferred to another correctional facility within the next 24 hours.