Compton City LogoA fire broke out at a city fire station in Compton and destroyed $1.1 million in radio and communications equipment that the city bought last year in an ultimately aborted attempt to bring back its municipal police department.

The City Council, which had voted in the summer of 2010 to embark on a $19-million venture to start a new Compton Police Department, killed the project in April as it became apparent that the city was in dire fiscal straits. But the radio equipment had already been purchased.

City officials talked about selling the equipment to help the city deal with its budget deficit, which had ballooned to $39 million by July.

The blaze broke out at the racquetball court at the city’s fire station headquarters, where the radio equipment was stored, about 4:50 p.m. Sunday, Interim City Manager Lamont Ewell said. The fire was contained to the racquetball court, but the equipment was destroyed.

Ewell said a team of investigators from both inside and outside the city are looking into the fire, and the city’s risk manager is assessing whether insurance coverage applies to the destroyed equipment.