Somerset

Portishead police firearms training centre fire still burning

Scene of the fire on Wednesday
Image caption An investigation into the circumstances of the blaze cannot begin until the building is declared safe

A police firearms training centre being built in Somerset is still on fire more than 48 hours after the blaze began.

The fire at the Black Rock centre in Portishead was spotted by a passing police officer in the early hours of Tuesday.

On Wednesday, an anarchist group claimed responsibility for the fire.

Avon Fire and Rescue Service said investigators would not be able move on to the site until the fire was fully extinguished.

Specialist equipment is being used to cut through thick walls at the site, where a small number of fires are still burning underneath a collapsed roof.

PFI deal

Although the number of firefighters has been scaled back, more could be called in depending on what crews find, a fire service spokeswoman said.

A group called "Angry Foxes Cell" claimed in a post on Wednesday on the Bristol Indymedia website that its members started the fire on Monday night.

The group said it "puts smiles on our faces to realise how easy it was" to target the building.

Police said it was too early to decide "cause or responsibility".

The £16m training centre is to be used by the Avon and Somerset, Gloucestershire and Wiltshire police forces.

The facility, which will contain two indoor firing ranges as well as classrooms, had been due to open in January.

It is part of a Private Finance Initiative (PFI) deal, worth more than £100m, which will also involve police stations and other operational facilities being built in Patchway, Keynsham and Bridgwater.

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