It is so bitterly cold outside, but Ionia County Undersheriff Charlie Noll says he does not think frozen pipes caused the sewer to back up at the county jail.

“I do not believe it is weather related,” Noll said.

Thursday, Jan. 4, sewage spilled out of drains into four housing pods at the jail. Male inmates in the flooded areas were moved to female living spaces and women prisoners were bussed to temporary quarters at the Montcalm County Jail in Stanton.

Noll said an inmate may have flushed something down a commode to clog the sewer.

“Yes, it very well could possibly be someone putting something into a commode and flushing the toilet and causing the blockage,” he said.

Noll said the pipes are now unclogged. An outside firm was hired to clean up the mess.

He said there was also never any danger that an inmate would escape during the incident.

“Anytime you move an inmate there is a security issue, I can't say there is not,” he points out. “But we provided extra staff and extra officers. We took every precaution.”

The male inmates have since moved back into the pods that had issues. The female inmates will be retrieved from Montcalm County Friday afternoon.

The specific cause of the blockage remains under investigation.

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