Gregg County inmate starts fire

GREGG COUNTY, TX (KSLA) - Gregg County jail officials worked a fire Tuesday afternoon that was allegedly started by an inmate.

Officials say a fire alarm was activated shortly after 1 p.m. Tuesday on the 7th floor of the Gregg County South jail facility.

Responding deputies say that an inmate self started a small fire. That inmate has now been identified as 30-year-old Christopher Mathis of Longview.

Gregg County Sheriff Maxey Cerliano says that Mathis started the fire using a combination of toilet tissue, pencil lead and electricity inside the cell to ignite a mattress.

17 inmates were evacuated while deputies extinguished the fire.

Mathis now faces an arson charge, and is now being housed in a separation cell, according to deputies. Mathis was in jail awaiting trial for a drug arrest case when he started the fire.

Luckily no one was injured and there was no damage to the jail, said Gregg County deputies.

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