Detainees evacuated from Australian immigration center after fire

Dozens of illegal immigrants were evacuated from part of a detention center on the edge of Australia's Outback early Saturday after apparent arson attacks set their compound ablaze, Immigration Minister Amanda Vanstone said.

Six detainees at the Baxter detention center in the south Australian town of Port Augusta were treated for smoke inhalation and one of them was hospitalized, she said.

Four separate fires gutted the center's dining room and recreation room and caused smoke damage to 10 accommodation rooms and the nurses station, Vanstone said. Vanstone said there was no riot at the center, a purpose-built unit ringed by electric fences. Those evacuated following the blaze were moved to another part of the detention center.

About 250 people were being held in the detention center while arrangements are made for their removal from Australia, said Immigration Department spokesman David Seale. Some are people whose asylum applications have been rejected by authorities while others have been caught staying in the country longer than their visa allowed.

Australia's immigration detention centers are regularly hit by unrest. In the past, detainees have gone on hunger strike, sewn together their lips and broken out in mass escapes following riots, AP reports.

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