Area firefighters believed the fire that evacuated the Rochester Community Center began in a second-floor bathroom Monday afternoon. (Paul Dolnier Photo)
Firefighters investigating suspicious Rochester fire
Police, firefighters and emergency personnel responded around noon after a fire alarm sounded in the Rochester Community Center, a former high school located at 150 Wakefield St.
Avery said heavy, black smoke ran down the ceiling of a 400-foot hallway on the second floor of the building, which houses the city's recreation department and economic development personnel, as well as the superintendent's office, a local food pantry, a driving school and other agencies.
As a result, Avery said firefighters from Rochester and Somersworth divided up to search the various rooms and hallways.
They quickly located the origin of the fire and believe it someone purposely ignited a hand soap container.
"It traveled half-way up the wall and caused more smoke than fire," Avery said.
Avery said firefighters continue to investigate the incident.