Located in the Elizabeth City, North Carolina, the prisoners set fire to the prison's sewing plant to distract prison guards on the scene.
"Several employees injured", a tweet from the department said.
Nearby schools were placed on lockdown as a precaution.
Northside Elementary, Elizabeth City Middle School and Pasquotank County High School were placed on lockdown, which was lifted just before 5 p.m.
Pasquotank Correctional Institute is an all-male prison, with an inmate capacity of 896 and a staff of 410.
We're gathering details on an attempted escape from one correctional institution here in the east.
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He added that North Korea would not rule out "the use of the most extreme measures in response". Forces Korea, told the Senate a year ago .
It wasn't immediately clear whether the inmates involved were employed by the plant.
The public safety department said authorities extinguished the fires and that the situation was under control.
Sentara Healthcare says nine patients have been received at Sentara Albemarle Medical Center, two of which are being transferred to Sentara Norfolk General Hospital.
An endeavored escape was accounted for Thursday evening at a northeastern North Carolina state jail. Students who ride buses must have a parent home when the bus arrives or the student will be returned to their school, the district said.
All afternoon activities at the schools have been cancelled.
There were 729 inmates at the prison Thursday.