Butte County jail inmates moved to Alameda County amid Oroville Dam crisis

OROVILLE (KTVU) -- Nearly 600 inmates from the Butte County Jail in Oroville have been evacuated and transported to Alameda County's Santa Rita Jail because of the threat of a spillway collapse at the Oroville Dam, authorities said.

Butte County sheriff's officials said the evacuation of all 578 of the inmates on Sunday afternoon was the first time an evacuation order has been issued at the Butte County Jail. They said about 80 personnel were involved in the evacuation and transportation effort.

The San Francisco County sheriff is also housing inmates from an area affected by the Oroville Dam crisis. Department officials said they are housing 36 inmates from Sutter County as the region copes with the spillway emergency. 

In Butte County, the Office of Education provided five buses, and assistance and transportation vehicles were provided by the Placer County, Shasta County and Tehama County sheriff's offices, authorities said.


The California Highway Patrol helped escort the caravan of vehicles that was used to transport the inmates to Santa Rita.

Butte County sheriff's officials said the inmates will return to the Butte County Jail when it is deemed safe for them to return.

They said inmates' friends and loved ones can call the Santa Rita Jail or visit the Alameda County sheriff's website for more information.

Alameda County sheriff's spokesman Sgt. Ray Kelly said there's "plenty of room" for the Butte County inmates at Santa Rita because the jail housed about 5,000 inmates a day in the early 2000s but currently houses only about 2,500 inmates a day.

Kelly said his department may incur some overtime costs for housing and helping transport the Butte County inmates but he said the inmates "won't tax the system."

Kelly said the flooding threat in Butte County seems to be easing so he thinks the inmates will be transferred back to the jail there "in a matter of several days."

"It will be a very short visit here but we're glad to help," he said.

Kelly said it's important for the Butte County inmates to return as soon as possible so they can make their court appearances there and meet with their family members and attorneys.

KTVU reporter Tara Moriarty and Bay City News contributed to this report.