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California inmates riot, burning prison and injuring 250

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New York Times / August 10, 2009

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LOS ANGELES - Rioting inmates smashed and burned a large California prison on Saturday night and yesterday morning, injuring 250 prisoners and hospitalizing 55.

The 11-hour riot, at the Reception Center West at the California Institution for Men in Chino, about 40 miles east of Los Angeles, broke down along racial lines, with black prison gangs fighting Latino gangs in hand-to-hand combat, the authorities said.

No prison employees were injured, no deaths were reported, and no inmates escaped, state officials said. But 10 of the 33 prisons in the state system were placed on lockdown to prevent unrest from spreading. Those 10 were in the southern part of the state.

Damage to the 1,300-inmate medium-security prison was “significant and extensive,’’ said a spokesman, Lieutenant Mark Hargrove.

One housing unit was virtually destroyed by fire, Hargrove said.

The other housing areas were so badly damaged that they were uninhabitable, he said, so some inmates were being temporarily housed in tents while others were sent to alternate prisons.