At least 272 inmates are dead after a devastating blaze swept a federal prison in central Honduras overnight, officials say. A fire department spokesman in Comayagua described a "hellish" scene in which many prisoners "burned to death or suffocated in their cells." Many were apparently left to die when the guard carrying the key to their cells went missing, reports the AP. Firefighters said that gunfire prevented them from entering the burning building, notes Reuters. The toll could worsen, as the prison held 800 inmates. "This is a preliminary report; there could be a lot more deaths," a forensic expert says.