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Two North Carolina prison employees killed in attempted prisoner escape identified

ELIZABETH CITY, N.C. -- The two employees killed during an attempted prisoner escape from a North Carolina prison on Thursday have been identified, according to the North Carolina Department of Public Safety.

The incident happened around 3 p.m. after inmates at the Pasquotank Correctional Institution in Elizabeth City started a fire in the facility's specialty sewing plant, WTKR reports. After the fire was set, several inmates unsuccessfully attempted to escape.

Correctional Officer Justin Smith, 35, was identified as a victim. He provided security in the Correction Enterprises Specialty Sewing Plant and had worked as a correctional officer since 2012.

Correction Enterprises Manager Veronica Darden, 50, was also killed. Darden supervised inmates working in the Specialty Sewing Plant and had been a Correction Enterprises employee since 2007. She previously worked as a correctional officer.

Three other prison employees remain in critical condition at a local hospital. Seven prison employees were treated and released from the hospital, and four inmates were treated for injuries.

The facility is able to house about 900 inmates, but Thursday's inmate count was at 725.