A fiery prison altercation has left two inmates dead and six others injured at a provincial jail in suburban Quebec City.
Public security officials say 14 inmates were involved in the "tragic and deplorable" event that erupted in one of the wings of the Orsainville prison at about 9:30 p.m. ET Wednesday.
Prisoners set fire to a mattress and clothing during the scuffle, which involved inmates aged 20 to 50 who were detained at the centre while awaiting trials.
Guards at the prison tried to evacuate the wing when the altercation broke out, but eight prisoners refused to leave. At that point, the fire broke out.
Once the blaze was extinguished, authorities found the bodies of two inmates in a cell.
What prompted the disturbance remains a mystery, although officials at the prison know that "it was an altercation involving somebody who was incarcerated," said Johanne Beausoleil, a spokeswoman for Quebec's Public Security Department.
Six injured prisoners were hospitalized for smoke inhalation and other injuries. No prison employees were injured in the melee.
Overpopulation is not a pressing issue at the institution, which can house 700 offenders, more than the 631 currently detained, Beausoleil said.
Quebec police and public security officials are conducting independent investigations.
It's not the first riot at the Orsainville facility. In 2008, prisoners lashed out after smoking was banned at the centre.