Search and rescue teams sent in to Southsea derelict nightclub

COMING DOWN The shell of the Savoy Court buildings.   Pictures: Malcolm Wells
COMING DOWN The shell of the Savoy Court buildings. Pictures: Malcolm Wells
The Co-op store where the incident took place

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SPECIALIST teams have been trawling through the rubble of a former nightclub which was destroyed by fire, to check there was nobody inside.

The fire at Joanna’s nightclub in South Parade, Southsea broke out on Tuesday evening and saw more than 80 firefighters from across the area battling against the flames.

BREAK Search teams leave the scene of the fire

BREAK Search teams leave the scene of the fire

A team of urban search and rescue workers from Hampshire Fire and Rescue service and police officers have been at the site over the weekend checking that there were no people inside the building at the time of the fire.

Police have reassured the public that it is standard practice to carry out searches in cases like this.

A Hampshire Constabulary spokeswoman said: ‘Due to the circumstances of the fire at Joanna’s in Southsea, we need to ensure that no persons were present in the building at the time the fire took hold.

‘We have therefore been conducting searches of the site to make sure that is the case.’

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.

John Hughes, managing director of Demolition and Salvage Ltd, said it is a huge project which could take some time to complete.

‘We are just working with the police and the forensics unit and the urban search and rescue team,’ he said.

‘They don’t want to disturb the structure until they complete their investigation which we think will be the middle of the week.

‘They are experts in things like that. They know when it is still unstable.

‘We have been helping to move things into the basement.

‘It may take another week yet.

‘There is an awful lot of clearing up work to do once the building is down to ground level.

‘You wouldn’t choose to demolish a building in that way.

‘The problem is that you can’t recycle many of the materials.’

An investigation into the cause of the fire is continuing.

Anyone with any information is asked to call Hampshire Constabulary on 101 or call Crimestoppers anonymously on 0800 555 111.