Two dozen inmates were injured Tuesday morning in a brawl and subsequent fire at a prison in the central Chilean city of Quillota, authorities said.

The regional director of the prison guard, Juan Carlos Manriquez, said the fire began at 1 a.m. and was started by prisoners who began burning mattresses and other objects that they then threw out the windows of their cells after getting into a brawl.

Manriquez said that the facility's guard intervened and eventually moved all 550 inmates into "the security area."

"The last dormitory, which is No. 5 (and) showed greater resistance to the (clearing operation), was evacuated and is being evaluated at this time," Manriquez said.

Firefighters managed to bring the flames under control shortly after 6 a.m.

Outside the prison, many family members of the prisoners gathered to ask for information and complain about problems such as overcrowding and poor food quality - among others - in the prison, and they said that several days ago a group of inmates had launched a hunger strike to protest those matters.

Manriquez denied that any hunger strike was under way and said that the only complaints from prisoners had come on Monday and they were over recent modifications to the rules governing family visits. EFE