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May 06. 2013 9:08PM

Firefighters investigating suspicious Rochester fire

Area firefighters believed the fire that evacuated the Rochester Community Center began in a second-floor bathroom Monday afternoon. (Paul Dolnier Photo)

ROCHESTER - The Community Center was evacuated after thick, black smoke from a suspicious fire filled the second floor hallway Monday, according to Fire Capt. Mark Avery.

Police, firefighters and emergency personnel responded around noon after a fire alarm sounded in the Rochester Community Center, a former high school located at 150 Wakefield St.

Avery said heavy, black smoke ran down the ceiling of a 400-foot hallway on the second floor of the building, which houses the city's recreation department and economic development personnel, as well as the superintendent's office, a local food pantry, a driving school and other agencies.

As a result, Avery said firefighters from Rochester and Somersworth divided up to search the various rooms and hallways.

They quickly located the origin of the fire and believe it someone purposely ignited a hand soap container.

"It traveled half-way up the wall and caused more smoke than fire," Avery said.

Avery said firefighters continue to investigate the incident.

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