Two vehicles were gutted and another badly damaged in a mysterious arson attack that threatened nearby boat clubrooms in Omokoroa yesterday.
The alarm was raised at 5.45am, sending about 10 volunteer firefighters to a car burning in the carpark outside the Omokoroa Boat Club on The Esplanade.
Omokoroa Volunteer Fire Brigade chief Ian Blunt said firefighters could see the smoke from a distance away and as they travelled towards it, the Tauranga Fire Service was called to a second vehicle alight in the same area.
They found an Isuzu 4WD ablaze outside the boat club with the flames licking at a neighbouring Mitsubishi Galant.
Meanwhile, on the sand nearby a Honda Prelude was well alight.
Mr Blunt said it appeared this car had been driven down the old boat ramp on to the beach, before becoming stuck in the soft sand and set alight.
Hoses on either side of the fire truck were able to be used to douse both burning vehicles. Mr Blunt said the wind was drifting towards the boat club and the fire in the Isuzu could easily have spread to a wooden sign and on to the club itself. "It was very spectacular."
Mr Blunt understood the Isuzu and Galant may have belonged to residents of Matakana Island.
Staff at Omokoroa Boat Club said the cars were still alight when the cleaner arrived about 6am.
Omokoroa resident of the past 11 years, Vibeke Frolund, was looking at the burnt-out eyesore left on the sand.
"I've never seen anything like that here before," she said.
Tauranga police Senior Sergeant Glenn Saunders said investigations into the fires were under way and forensics staff would try to gather evidence from the vehicles.
Police were today trying to track down the owners of the vehicles.
At this stage police have no suspects and Mr Saunders said it was not yet clear if the vehicles were stolen or had been left in the carpark overnight.
He said police would like to hear from anyone who noticed any suspicious behaviour in or around the Omokoroa Boat Club carpark area around 5am yesterday.
Contact Tauranga Police on (07) 577 4300 or call anonymously on 0800 SPEAK UP.