A NSW jail has been placed in lockdown after a maximum-security prisoner deliberately started a fire in his cell, authorities say.
The prisoner lit the blaze about 9.30am on Wednesday at the South Coast Correctional Centre in Nowra and then refused to leave his cell, a Corrective Services NSW spokeswoman said in a statement.
A riot followed involving up to 60 inmates in two different pods of the jail. Prison officers on the scene deployed tear gas to safely remove all inmates from the area.
"Immediate Action Team officers were forced to deploy gas in the yards of two pods containing about 60 inmates in total, in order to safely return all inmates to their cells," a Corrective Services NSW spokesperson said.
Meanwhile, two other inmates climbed onto an awning of an internal building at the prison but later came down of their own accord.
Firefighters rushed to the scene following reports of the blaze but were denied access to the high-security prison.
"I understand that following on from that (first fire) a number of smaller fires were lit in additional cells, once that had occurred the prison was placed in lockdown," a Fire & Rescue NSW spokesman told reporters on Wednesday.
"The fire was extinguished by staff."
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Corrective Services Commissioner Peter Severin praised prison officers for their response to the incident saying it was the type of situation officers dealt with regularly.
"Corrective Services officers face a difficult job each day in managing some of the most dangerous people," Mr Severin said in a statement.
An investigation is under way into the incident and the inmates involved could face charges.