Police hunt youths on BMXs after blaze in derelict Waterlooville building

Curzon Rooms fire, Waterlooville. ''Picture Malcolm Wells
Curzon Rooms fire, Waterlooville. ''Picture Malcolm Wells

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DETECTIVES are investigating a blaze that destroyed a derelict building.

Officers working with Hampshire Fire and Rescue Service want to hear from anyone who spotted a group of youths on BMX bikes near the former Curzon Rooms in Waterlooville, before the fire broke out there.

As reported, up to 60 firefighters tackled the blaze in which the two-storey building, in Curzon Road, was destroyed.

The exact cause of the fire, which was reported shortly before 3.30am today, is not known.

But forensics experts are working at the scene to establish how it started.

Detective Constable Emily Dummer from Waterlooville CID said: ‘The location of this fire is an old banqueting hall which hasn’t been used for some time. This is the second fire at the premises in the past few weeks.

‘I would like to hear from anyone who has information about this incident. I’d particularly like to hear from a group of youths who were seen in the area earlier in the day riding on BMXs.’

Roads in the area were shut while the blaze was tackled to ensure the safety of the public but these should be reopened shortly.

Six crews were called to the fire – two fire engines from Havant, two from Waterlooville and two from Cosham.

Firefighters using aerial ladder platforms from Redbridge and Basingstoke were also drafted in.

No-one is thought to have been hurt in the blaze.

However the building’s roof has collapsed so firefighters are currently unable to get in to the building.

The cause of the fire is not yet know, however specialist investigators are at the scene.

Incident commander Dave Graham, said fire crews responded very quickly to the severe blaze: ‘There is no-one hurt but there was a vagrant in there. He was already out [of the building] when we arrived.

‘We are fairly confident at this time there is no-one else in there. We will be making a further check when it is safe to do so.

‘We have got a fire investigation team on site now and we are carrying out an investigation.

‘We haven’t got any indications one way or another at this time [as to how the fire started].

‘The roof has now collapsed so we have not been able to get in this morning to find the origin.

‘The first floor and the roof are completely destroyed.’

Nassa Sharan, 43, manager of Cafe Havana in nearby London Road precinct, said: ‘I got in at about 7.30am. I just saw lots of police and firefighters.

‘The building is just a wreck and the windows are shattered. It’s destroyed.’

A worker at nearby C Knight and Son butchers in London Road, Waterlooville, who does not want to be named, said: ‘We came in at about 6.40am and we saw police there.

‘The first floor windows are smashed because there was fire inside.

‘Firemen are still there now.’

The latest blaze comes less than a month after an arson attack at the decaying site – which was once a popular nightspot.

The previous fire started on August 23.

The Curzon Rooms opened in the late 1950s as a cinema but went on to become a dance hall. It then became a function room before shutting 11 years ago.

Since then the building has fallen into disrepair.

Several applications have been put in to turn the site into flats with shops below, but so far nothing has come of it.

A decision on plans to demolish The Curzon Rooms and create a car park for more than 60 vehicles is due to be made in October.