The sprinkler system kept a blaze in check inside a residential building for senior citizens until firefighters could arrive on Tuesday night.
No injuries were reported in the fire at Effingham Plaza in the 800 block of Madison St., said Deputy Fire Chief Jim Hoffler.
Over the years, though, the facility has had at least two fatal fires that have caused major damage, Hoffler said. The sprinkler system may have saved lives, he added.
“Having that system in there is absolutely the best thing in the world,” Hoffler said.
The blaze was reported shortly after 10 p.m. on the top floor of the four-story building. Several apartments had water damage, but Portsmouth Redevelopment and Housing Authority officials took them into a recreation center located between the facility’s two buildings.
The housing authority was working to relocate the residents until the damage can be cleaned up, Hoffler said.
The fire was contained by the sprinklers in one room of the apartment where it began.
Hoffler said he did not yet know the cause.