March 3 (UPI) -- Two inmates of Nebraska's Tecumseh State Prison died in an outbreak of violence in which part of the prison was on fire, officials said.
The disturbance began Thursday afternoon with a fire in a yard connected to housing units, and about refusing to return to their assigned cells.
Prison officials placed the facility, located between Omaha and Lincoln, on lockdown after altercations between inmates. Emergency response teams of the state corrections department entered the facility wearing riot gear, and found two inmates dead and an unknown number of inmates with non-life-threatening injuries. No staff members reported injuries.
State Corrections Director Scott Frakes said the disturbance began when inmates started a small fire in a yard adjacent to a living area, and about 40 inmates refused to return to their cells. Additional fires were set inside the housing unit, he said, but insisted the incident was not regarded as a riot. He added that staff responded "flawlessly" after the report of the fire.
Gov. Pete Ricketts hired Frakes in 2015 to fix problems within the state's prison system after two inmates died in a riot which included the same area of the Tecumseh prison as Thursday's events.
The two fatalities were not identified.