The incident took place following a clash between the inmates and the guards of cell block B of Modelo jail, which houses over 200 prisoners. It took about seven fire engines to extinguish the 39ft flames.
Gen Saul Torres, the director of the Colombian prison system, said that the fight broke out after guards confiscated drugs, mobile phones and weapons while conducting a search. Th guards fired tear gas to disperse the fight when the fire broke out.
Condemning the incident, Barranquilla Mayor Elsa Margarita Noguera said "it isn't right that we can't guarantee the safety of our prisoners".
She also considered overcrowding of the prison as the reason behind the incident. Approximately 200 police are guarding the jail closely to prevent any inmate from escaping.