Air compressor causes fire at Naval Medical Center

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) — Fire crews battled flames in one of the Portsmouth Naval Medical Center buildings Wednesday afternoon.

Deborah Kallgren with the medical center said the fire was on a roof near the 6th floor of Building 3, which is an 18-story high-rise building known as the old hospital. The fire originated from an air compressor that was on-site for construction purposes.

Photos: Naval Medical Center fire

Rebecca Perron, another spokeswoman for the medical center, said the fire never breached the building and no structural damage had been reported.

There are only outpatient clinics and administrative spaces inside Building 3. The fire happened near the Refractive Surgery Clinic, which closed at 4 p.m., Kallgren said. The hospital learned of the fire at 5 p.m., and the building was evacuated before anyone was injured.

Mike Stockton with the Portsmouth Fire Department said about 20 firefighters responded to the fire at the government’s request. They assisted Navy Region Mid-Atlantic Fire and Emergency Services. Kallgren said firefighters had to break a window in the process of fighting the fire.

HN Chris Able said he works in the building, but was not inside when the fire started. “I heard an explosion and then I looked up and there were flames and black smoke rolling out of the top. I was just hoping everybody in there is okay,” Able said.

Perron said Building 3 was the primary hospital from 1959 to 1999 and is currently undergoing repairs under an American Recovery and Reinvestment Act contract with Blueridge General, Inc. of Norfolk. The project will replace the roof and repair the exterior of the building.

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