Manchester fire officials shut down illegal nightclub

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Jul. 13—Manchester fire officials have shut down an illegal nightclub operating a block away from the department's downtown headquarters, citing significant safety hazards.

The unlicensed club, located toward the rear of the Down the Block convenience store at 167 Hanover St., opened its door to patrons between 2 and 6 a.m. and would regularly draw crowds upwards of 150 and 200 people inside, Manchester Fire Marshal Peter Lennon said in a release.

The club had been operating for about a month, mostly on weekends, officials said.

After receiving complaints about the existence of an unlicensed nightclub or speakeasy operating behind the store, Lennon's office opened an investigation.

Personnel with the Manchester Fire Department's Bureau of Fire Prevention executed an administrative search warrant and performed a life safety inspection of the assembly area at the rear of 167 Hanover St. on July 1, and confirmed the area was being used as an unpermitted and unlicensed night club.

"Given the significant life safety hazard of this unpermitted and unlicensed establishment along with the history of tragic events stemming from similar situations, enforcement action was taken," said Lennon in a statement.

Several violations of the state fire code were identified during the inspection, Lennon said, including:

—a single entrance or exit to the club, no fire alarm or fire sprinkler system present;

—interior finish issues that would produce large volumes of smoke and rapidly spread a fire if one occurred;

—improper storage of motorized vehicles and propane tanks inside the establishment;

—electrical wiring in significant disrepair.

Lennon said fire officials met with the owner of the club, pointing out the "significant life safety hazards" present.

The club was ordered to discontinue operations until the space can be brought up to fire and building codes and all proper permits and licenses obtained from the city.

"At this time, the business is closed as the owner is working with the city Fire Marshal's Office to develop a plan of action to ensure the space is legal, permitted and most importantly safe for patrons to occupy," Lennon said in a statement.

The owner could face fines, officials said.

Personnel with New Hampshire Liquor Enforcement, the City of Manchester City Clerk's Office and the Manchester Police Department assisted with the inspection, Lennon said.

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