New Appeal For Info After Nightclub Fire

Detectives have made a fresh appeal for information, a week after a huge fire in Southsea.

Police were  called to the building which once housed Joanna's nightclub on South Parade at 5.34pm on Tuesday, August 9,

A joint investigation involving Hampshire Constabulary and Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service is continuing to establish the
cause of the fire and the circumstances surrounding why the blaze began.

Workers are also on the site to remove some of the rubble before the demolition takes place, which is expected to be later this week.

An exclusion zone remains around the site and the road directly outside South Parade Pier is still closed in both directions.

A Portsmouth City Council spokesman said: 

"Portsmouth City Council has placed evacuated residents in temporary accommodation and will continue to support them until they return to their homes.

"The council has also worked with the Salvation Army to provide free hot meals to these residents – a very welcome service in these circumstances.

"Any resident who has not yet spoken to the council, but needs temporary accommodation as they cannot return home, should call the housing team on (023) 9282 4244."

A 17-year-old  boy from Portsmouth was arrested on Saturday August 13th on suspicion of arson, questioned at Portsmouth Central Police Station, and released with no further action.

Portsmouth Chief Inspector Richard Taylor said: 

“We’re keeping an open mind about how this fire started.

We must explore and examine every line of enquiry thoroughly and this means a criminal motive cannot be ruled out.

“As part of the police investigation, we needed to ensure that no people were in the building at the time of the fire.

"A routine search of the rubble was completed and we’re satisfied that there is no evidence at the moment to suggest this was the case.

“We realise that some local residents have concerns about why they cannot return to their homes yet.

"The community has displayed tremendous patience and understanding in helping us keep the public safe in the dangerous aftermath of a serious fire.

"We’re most grateful for this invaluable co-operation.

"Specialist officers with experience and expertise in these types of investigations are working as quickly as they can to progress our enquiries to a point where people can return home.

“One week after the fire, we remain particularly interested in any movements of people and property, which may have been at or around the building on Tuesday, August 9, 2011 between 8am and 6pm.

“As a result of our previous appeal, detectives have now identified and spoken with a blonde woman who was near the scene of the fire last Tuesday evening.

"She is not suspected of any crime and we’d like to thank her for coming forward to help our enquiries.”

Anyone else with information is asked to contact CID at Fratton Police Station by phoning 101.