Wash. inmate admits igniting jail fire with video tablet and paper clip
The inmate admitted to removing the back of the tablet and starting a fire by shorting the exposed battery with a paperclip
By Jack Belcher
The Bellingham Herald (Bellingham, Wash.)
WHATCOM COUNTY, Wash. — A Whatcom County Jail inmate reportedly ignited a fire with a video tablet and a paperclip, forcing a relocation of several inmates to another area of the jail.
Deputies at the jail were alerted to the fire when an alarm sounded in the jail control room. Deputies responded to the restrictive housing unit on the second floor to find inmate Benjamin Morgan, 20, in a cell full of smoke. The fire was quickly put out and did not spread.
Morgan admitted to removing the back of the tablet and starting a fire by shorting the exposed battery with a paperclip. Morgan was originally arrested March 25, 2023 for first-degree burglary, third-degree theft and robbery. Probable cause exists to charge Morgan with first-degree arson and malicious mischief third-degree after the Feb. 1 incident, according to Deb Slater with the Whatcom County Sheriff’s Office.
It is unclear where Morgan got the paperclip in the jail cell, but the tablet was loaned to him by another inmate, as Morgan was on a tablet restriction at the time.
One deputy was taken to St. Joseph Medical Center in Bellingham for smoke inhalation. No other injuries were reported.
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