Historic home catches fire at Norfolk Naval Shipyard

Cause not yet determined

PORTSMOUTH, Va. (WAVY) – Firefighters from Navy Region Mid-Atlantic and Portsmouth Fire-Rescue were called to Norfolk Naval Shipyard early Tuesday, where heavy smoke and flames were coming from Quarters “A,” the Shipyard Commander’s Residence.

According to Jeff Cunningham, Public Affairs Officer for Norfolk Naval Shipyard, the call was received by Portsmouth dispatchers at 1:58 a.m. Navy Region Mid-Atlantic firefighters were notified at 2:01 a.m. and firefighters were on scene along Lincoln Street at 2:07 a.m. Once on-scene, Navy Region Mid-Atlantic asked for mutual aid from the City of Portsmouth.

The building was unoccupied at the time of the fire, but crews were in the structure Monday afternoon restoring hardwood floors.

One firefighter from Navy Region Mid-Atlantic was taken to Portsmouth Naval Medical Center for evaluation after experiencing shortness of breath while fighting the fire.

Quarters "A" image, courtesy www.navsea.navy.mil.
Quarters “A” image, courtesy http://www.navsea.navy.mil.

WAVY.com learned the fire was out at approximately 5 a.m., and Gate 3 at Norfolk Naval Shipyard reopened around 6 a.m.

Quarters “A” is the home of the Commander of Norfolk Naval Shipyard. The outgoing Commander moved out of the home approximately four months ago and the new Commander was scheduled to move within a few days. Cunningham said they are now reviewing options for where the new commander will live.

According to the Norfolk Naval Shipyard website, Quarters “A” was originally built in 1837 and is listed in the Nation Register of Historic Landmarks. The website states Commodore Lewis Warrington was the first shipyard commander to live in Quarters “A” after the central portion of the home was completed in 1838.

The house served as a residence and office until 1861, when it was destroyed by fire, according to Norfolk Naval Shipyard’s website.

Cunningham with Norfolk Naval Shipyard said the Navy has started its investigation.

Wednesday morning, Cunningham said the cause of the fire had not yet been determined. He said the inspection of the building was suspended because there was concern for the structural integrity. Investigators determined the fire originated in an upstairs area. The investigation is ongoing.

The cause of Tuesday morning’s fire is currently under investigation. Stay with WAVY News 10 for the latest details.

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