Trio in court over fire during raid

Thick smoke bellowed from a shed that had caught alight in Katikati.  Photo / Supplied
Thick smoke bellowed from a shed that had caught alight in Katikati. Photo / Supplied

Three people will appear in court this morning in relation to a fire at a Katikati address raided by police yesterday.

Police said a 35-year-old man from Katikati, a 37-year-old man from Mateku and a 26-year-old woman from Tauranga have all been jointly charged with arson and conspiring to manufacture methamphetamine.

The trio will appear in the Tauranga District Court today.

Explosions echoed across Katikati yesterday after about two dozen police, including armed offenders squad officers, descended on a residential block on Park Rd.

Neighbours were told to keep indoors while police swarmed around an industrial-sized shed.

Shortly afterwards, explosions echoed across the town as the shed caught alight. Bright orange flames leapt from the shed and thick, black smoke billowed out of the roof, leaving a lingering, sickly smell.

Some nearby residents were evacuated following the explosion, after being informed there were toxic fumes in the smoke.

It took more than a dozen firefighters from Katikati Volunteer Fire Brigade, Greerton and Mount Maunganui more than five hours to bring the blaze under control and dampen the hot spots.

Police will examine the scene today to establish the cause of the fire.

They said it was not possible to confirm whether there was a methamphetamine lab at the site until the examination was complete.

Residents said a group of young people had been living in the building.

A neighbour, who would not be named, said it appeared all of their possessions were destroyed in the blaze, including a classic car.

"They had lots of stuff stored in there. They used to have parties in there but not recently."

Another neighbour said AOS members drove on to her backyard about 11am.

"We heard dogs barking and people yelling so I thought it was a fight or something, then I went outside and saw all these armed offenders guys with their guns."

The woman said a member of the AOS team warned her and her family to stay indoors as the shed contained volatile chemicals. She said she was told by an officer that the building was a suspected P lab.

- nzherald.co.nz, APNZ and Bay of Plenty Times

© Copyright 2014, APN New Zealand Limited

Assembled by: (static) on production apcf04 at 23 Dec 2014 09:58:51 Processing Time: 443ms