Tent City tents reach 165, inmates cool down in excessive heat

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By Andrew Michalscheck By Andrew Michalscheck

PHOENIX -- The Maricopa County Sheriff’s Office, noting the excessive heat warning for Phoenix, helped inmates at the Tent City jail beat the heat.  

The outdoor jail houses inmates in tents, where they are exposed to the elements, including the blistering Phoenix heat.
“I think it’s a pretty nice thing here. We’ve been going through some extreme heat lately, and any kind of relief we can get, we’ll take it,” said inmate Denis Butler.
Inmates were able to leave their tents to line up for ice, ice cream, and cold wet towels. Most placed the towels around their necks for instant relief, then took the ice cream back to the tents to lay down on their bunks. Some ate standing up in front of a fan.
“A cool, wet towel, that’ll always help ‘cause it’s the best way to keep yourself cool in this heat,” said Butler.
On Friday afternoon at about 2 p.m., sheriff’s deputies aimed a temperature gauge at the roof of the tents at Tent City. The readings ranged from 155 to 165 degrees.
“We are trying to eliminate some of that by providing some things to cool them down during these hot days,” said MCSO spokesperson Chris Hegstrom.
The tents are equipped with fans, and inmates are allowed access to air conditioned buildings.  MCSO officials say there has never been an illness or injury related to excessive heat at the outdoor jail.
“We have never had any heat related issues out here since we started the tents in the early ‘90’s,” said Hegstrom.
MCSO will continue to help the inmates cool down until the excessive temperatures decline.