Two North Carolina prison employees were killed and several others injured when inmates started a fire at the onsite sewing plant in an unsuccessful escape attempt.
Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City refused to say how the employees, Justin Smith, 35, and Veronica Darden, 50, were killed.
While three other prison workers remain in hospital in critical condition. A further seven were treated and released from Sentara Albemarle Medical Center.
Two North Carolina prison employees Justin Smith (left), 35, and Veronica Darden (right, 50, were killed and several others injured when inmates started a fire at the onsite sewing plant in an unsuccessful escape attempt
Four inmates were treated for injuries, none of them thought to be life threatening.
The state Department of Public Safety released the names of the employees who died: 'Correctional Officer Justin Smith, 35, provided security in the Correction Enterprises Specialty Sewing Plant. He had worked as a correctional officer since 2012.
'Correction Enterprises Manager Veronica Darden, 50, supervised inmates working in the Specialty Sewing Plant. She had been a Correction Enterprises employee since 2007 and previously worked as a correctional officer.'
The inmates started the fire at a Correction Enterprises sewing plant inside the prison, spokesman Keith Acree said in a statement on Thursday.
The plant makes embroidered items and safety vests. Following the fire, prison workers did several head counts and all 725 inmates were accounted for, Acree said.
Pasquotank County Sheriff's Department, are investigating the incident.
The prison near the northeast North Carolina coast holds nearly 900 adult, male felons in both high-security and minimum-custody buildings.
Some of the minimum-security prisoners are allowed to work outside the walls for the county recycling department and perform other community labors.
After the news of the escape attempt spread, the public school district shut down three nearby schools keeping the students inside for safety.
School buses that had already departed were recalled so that no children were left home alone, according to Tammy Sawyer, a spokesperson for the Elizabeth City-Pasquotank Public Schools.
Three other prison workers remain in hospital in critical condition. A further seven were treated and released from Sentara Albemarle Medical Center
'We didn't want kids home alone or in transport with the potential situation that was unfolding,' Sawyer said.
Local emergency management officials said about 5pm that it was safe for students to return home.
The prison has been a trouble hotspot of late. In April, an inmate was stabbed in the chest multiple times following an argument with another inmate.
While two months previous, a guard was charged with trying to smuggle illegal drugs, phones and cigarettes behind prison walls.
Govenor Roy Cooper expressed his condolences for the deaths in a statement following the tragic events.
'Those who work in our prisons do a difficult and demanding job that is critical to our safety,' he said.