Outrage as hundreds of prisoners at Lithgow jail are locked in their cells as huge bushfire rages just 50 metres away – while nearby residents are evacuated to safety
- Prison sparked outrage after refusing to evacuate bushfire-threatened inmates
- Lithgow’s residents were directed to an evacuation centre at a worker’s club
- Department of Justice NSW earlier shared photo of flames closing in on the jail
- Corrective Services NSW said there were no plans to do same for its prisoners
- ‘The prison is the safest place for them to be,’ a department spokesperson said
Prison officials have sparked outrage after keeping inmates locked inside their cells despite a huge bushfire burning just 50 metres away.
Hundreds of prisoners are housed at the maximum-security prison in Lithgow – which has been at the centre of the emergency level Gospers Mountain blaze north-west of Sydney on Saturday.
The town’s residents were directed to an evacuation centre at a workers club, but Corrective Services NSW said there were no plans to do the same for its prisoners.
The government department shared photos taken on Thursday night of the fire burning just over the hill from the correctional centre – and said that all visits had been cancelled.
Prison officials in Lithgow (prison pictured in foreground right) have sparked outrage after keeping inmates locked inside their cells despite the huge Gospers Mountain blaze (pictured in background) burning just 50 metres away
Corrective Services NSW said there were no plans to do the same for its prisoners (jail pictured foreground as the bushfire raged in the background) as had been done for Lithgow’s residents by directing the inmates to an evacuation centre
‘Corrective Services NSW is liaising with the NSW Rural Fire Service and there are a number of fire containment measures in place including fire breaks and the site has significant fire-fighting capabilities,’ Department of Justice NSW said in a Facebook post.
A spokesperson for Corrective Services NSW told Daily Mail Australia there was no chance of the prison catching fire.
‘There’s only dry grass around the centre and no wooden structures so the prison is not going to catch fire,’ the spokesperson said.
‘The prison is the safest place for them to be.’
In a further statement, Corrective Services NSW said the centre was surrounded by a solid concrete wall.
The bushland surrounding the prison is pictured after the fire had passed through the area; a spokesperson for Corrective Services NSW said there was no chance of the jail catching fire
The prison is pictured centre in this map with the hills which caught alight on Thursday night pictured at the top
Department of Justice NSW said on Saturday inmates and staff had been issued with P2 masks this week due to the heavy smoke in the area.
Social media users hit out though at the decision to keep inmates imprisoned in the jail despite the flames closing in to its walls.
‘How cruel and terrifying,’ one person wrote.
Social media users hit out at the decision to keep inmates imprisoned in the jail despite the flames closing in to its walls
Firefighters assess the damage to bushland outside the prison last week
‘How terrifying! Totally trapped,’ another added.
Others were in support of the decision, saying the cement walls and sparse vegetation around the prison meant it was the safest place to be.
It comes after the Oberon Correctional Centre in NSW’s Central Tablelands, which was threatened by the Green Wattle Creek fire, was evacuated on December 10.
Those inmates were moved to Lithgow and Bathurst correctional centres until further notice.
Others though were in support of the decision, saying the cement walls and sparse vegetation around the prison meant it was the safest place to be
Bushland outside the prison burns last week as hundreds of inmates remain inside