A 24-year-old Fife inmate said he was just trying to fix a sprinkler head in a holding cell when it broke and flooded the jail Tuesday.
Pierce County prosecutors see it differently, and have charged him with one count of malicious mischief. The man was released on his own recognizance. It’s unclear what landed him in the city jail to begin with.
An officer in charge of booking incoming inmates heard a “whoosh” about 2:30 a.m. and went to investigate. He found the metal protective cover over one of the fire-suppression sprinklers had been broken off and water was flowing into the holding cells.
Police transferred several inmates to a single cell while using blankets to prevent water from entering the others.
One officer told prosecutors the incident interrupted service because Fife police and Tacoma firefighters could not respond to calls while dealing with the flooding.
The 24-year-old inmate allegedly admitted to “messing” with the sprinkler head but declared, “I didn’t mean to do it; I was trying to fix it because it looked bent,” according to charging papers.
Police estimated the damage to the jail at $3,000. They added the incident might cost an additional $2,000 because of after-hour call-outs and the clean-up.stacia.glenn@ thenewstribune.com