Portsmouth police station fire under investigation
Police Capt. Frank Warchol said the station officer noticed thick, black, acrid smoke coming up the stairwell from the basement around 7:45 p.m.
Fire Chief Steve Achilles said the fire started in a thick pile of rubber backing used as a cachement area for rounds fired on the four-lane, 25-yard range.
Warchol said cleaning crews found soot as high as the fourth floor of the building. The police station occupies the basement, first floor and part of the second floor with City Hall offices in the remainder of the cinderblock building.
Warchol said dispatch operations returned to the station around 4 a.m. on Wednesday.
As of Wednesday afternoon Warchol said there was still a lot of clean-up to do and had no idea the estimated cost to repair the damage. He said it is possible that the firing range is “totaled.”
Insurance adjustors still needed to be called in and clean-up on Wednesday was focused in areas around the firing range to mitigate the smell permeating up through the building, Warchol said.
“This has been a significant inconvenience for us for obvious reasons but we are dealing with it the best we can right now,” Warchol said.
Police were able to determine that someone was firing in the range prior to the start of the fire, but could not confirm exactly when.
Officers practice with duty rounds and practice rounds, which are mainly 40 caliber bullets, Warchol said.