Fire at Portishead police firearms training centre

Firefighters battle a blaze at a police firearms training centre near Bristol

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A fire has ripped through the site of a new police firearms training centre.

The centre, which is being built at Black Rock Quarry in Portishead, is to be used by the Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire forces.

A police officer travelling on nearby Valley Road raised the alarm at about 04:30 BST.

A pump is being brought in from Wales to take water from a nearby lake to tackle the fire. Smoke from the blaze can be seen up to 20km (12 miles) away.

'Still burning'

Chief Constable Nick Gargan tweeted he had visited the site and described the scene as "heart-breaking".

He said: "Thankfully there don't appear to be any casualties, but the fire is still burning so it's impossible to get into the building."

An Avon Fire and Rescue Service spokeswoman said: "When crews arrived just after 4.30am the building was well alight with fire affecting about 50% of the building.

"At this stage there is no indication of the cause and firefighters are expected to be at the scene for much of Tuesday.

"Crews are waiting for a high-volume pump to arrive from south Wales which will be used to transport water from a nearby lake to tackle the fire from an aerial appliance."

The centre, which will contain two indoor firing ranges and classrooms, was planned to open next year.

Valley Road remains closed and motorists are being advised to take alternative routes.

The fire site The fire started in the early hours of Tuesday
The fire seen between Locking and Sandford This picture was taken between Locking and Sandford some 12 miles (20km) away
Black smoke rising from the fire in Valley Road The cause of the fire remains unknown

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