LOMPOC, Calif. - Jail cells at the Lompoc City Jail are temporarily empty. It's the place where Lompoc Police Officers house people who get arrested.
"Once the arrestee is taken into custody they are housed here until they see a judge," says Srgt. Kevin Martin, with the Lompoc Police Department.
Officers decided to evacuate the place after a staff member noticed a small fire Wednesday morning was causing smoke to fill up the jail.
"Because of the heavy smoke and the smell that was in the housing area for inmates it was determined they would be transported down to Santa Barbara," says Srgt. Martin.
Officers say the smoke was a result of a failing motor in the air handler system. It's something that maintenance crews are working to replace.
For now, the officers are being forced to transport people who they arrest down to the Santa Barbara County Jail in Goleta.
"Best case scenario you are looking at 2 1/2 -3 hours of that officer being outside of the city and not here to do their job in the community," says Srgt. Martin.
It's the same challenge Lompoc Police Officers face when they arrest someone with a medical condition.
"We don't have a nurse so they have to be transported down to Santa Barbara County Jail," he says .
The transport not only takes time but, takes officers away from fighting crimes and helping people here in Lompoc.
"I think the officers should be here because we need them here incase of an emergency for the people themselves," says Lionel McCormack.
Srgt. Martin says the jailwill be closed for about a week.