Fire set in jail in escape attempt


A man being held in the Jack Harwell Center on other charges has now been charged with arson and attempted escape.

Brandon Aaron Fritze has been moved to the county side of the facility from the privately operated portion of the facility after the charges were filed Wednesday.

The arrest affidavit on the charges filed against Fritze indicates the incident occurred June 30 as jailers working the L-wing at the Jack Harwell Detention Center were doing their final rounds before shift change.

They were at the opposite end of the wing and noticed a lot of smoke coming from cell L-136.

The affidavit says they grabbed a fire extinguisher, opened cell L-136 and saw a fire with about four foot flames that had been started in front of the door and directly under a big wooden box used for mail, medical requests and grievances.

They tried to put out the fire but were not successful on the first try.

Waco Fire Department were called and responded along with ambulance personnel and sheriff’s patrol deputies.

It was soon determined that the fire had been deliberately set.

The affidavit says that through investigation and interviews with jailers, inmates from other tanks and the eight inmates housed in cell L-136, it was found that several inmates were upset about some phones that had not been working and not being able to place a commissary order.

The affidavit says that three inmates, one being Brandon Fritze, took items from their property to include uniforms, property tags, inmate handbooks and pamphlets and put the items in with the rest of the trash to assist them in starting the fire.

They then used the electrical outlet, toilet paper and an empty toothpaste tube with a makeshift wick to get a spark and start the fire.

They then started the items they had put in with the trash and placed it under the wooden box.

Through the interviews conducted, several of the inmates told investigators that Fritze and two others were responsible for the fire.

The affidavit says that doors to Cell L-136 had to be opened along with the doors that open to the outside of the facility, with the cell located directly next to the door that opens to the outside giving Brandon access to the outside during the evacuation.

The affidavit for the arson charge said that one inmate even gave a written statement.

An investigation into the incident is ongoing with charges against others possible.

Jail records show Fritze was also being held on charges of aggravated assault with bond for that set at a half million dollars.

Copyright 2019 Nexstar Broadcasting, Inc. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed.

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