Amid frigid cold, Tennessee prison loses heat

NASHVILLE, Tenn. (AP/WVLT) - A Tennessee prison lost its main heating source on a frigid New Year's Day, and officials worked to keep inmates and employees warm with extra blankets and portable heaters.

Tennessee Department of Correction spokeswoman Neysa Taylor says Riverbend Maximum Security Institution lost hot water pressure Monday, causing its boiler to go offline. The staff is assessing what caused the pressure loss and hasn't yet provided a timeline for its return.

On Tuesday, Taylor told Local 8 News a portion of Riverbend Maximum Security Institution was back up and running with boiler-produced hot water and heat. Taylor said the portable units would be taken offline as the boiler-produced heat takes over.

Taylor said Tuesday a valve malfunction appeared to be responsible for the loss of pressure. The Tennessee Department of Corrections expected that the entire facility would be back on boiler-produced heat in the next 48 hours, Taylor said Tuesday.

Bobby Straughter, Assistant Commissioner of Operations, said crews worked overnight Monday in extreme conditions to ensure everyone's safety.

Assistant Commissioner of Prisons David Sexton said the staff and inmates have been extremely understanding and cooperative.

State data show the maximum security facility held 787 inmates as of Nov. 30. It houses all of the state's male death row offenders.