Hundreds of students evacuated from Portsmouth's Catherine House after '˜malicious activity'

HUNDREDS of students were evacuated from their accommodation in Portsmouth in the early hours of the morning, the fire service has said.

Tuesday, 1st May 2018, 9:12 am
Updated Tuesday, 1st May 2018, 9:42 am
Police at Catherine House in Stanhope Road Portsmouth on April 20 the morning after a suspicious device was found in the building. Picture: Ben Fishwick PPP-180420-154121001

Firefighters from Southsea Fire Station were called to the building, on Stanhope Road, after numerous fire alarms in the building were ‘maliciously activated’.

The station’s crew manager, Rob Gargaro, said his team were tied up at the scene for two hours, with their time and resources wasted.

He said: ‘We got the call just after 4.30am. The building holds about 900 people and roughly 300 were outside.

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‘We searched the building from top to bottom to ensure there was no fire.

‘Someone had maliciously activated numerous fire alarms throughout the building, which showed up on its systems.

‘All the time we were tied up there it was a waste of our time and resources.

‘We’re not able to attend genuine incidents when things like this happen.’

Three of Southsea’s pumps attended the incident.

Catherine House opened in 2017.

Crew manager Gargaro said the building’s security guard was present, and that a review into CCTV footage is due to be conducted.

He added: ‘Hopefully we can find who did this.’

Last month, components of a ‘suspicious device’ were discovered by workers at the student residence, sparking a police alert and controlled explosion of the material.