People in Piha expressed relief last night after the arrest of a teenager in connection with a spate of suspicious fires.
The 19-year-old faces three arson charges and one burglary charge related to a fire at a local fish and chip store and a large scrub fire adjacent to the store.
A woman who knows the suspect says his family will be torn to bits.
"This will be devastating for everyone involved ... it was not the outcome I was hoping for," said the woman, who has known the arrested man since he was born.
Waitakere police area commander Inspector Scott Webb confirmed the arrested man was from Piha. He was arrested in Tauranga yesterday morning in connection with two fires at Piha and another fire in the Auckland city area.
"Piha is a tight-knit community and we understand this has been a stressful time for residents," Webb said. "We have received an overwhelming response from local residents and the wider public who have come forward with information.
"Further investigations are continuing in relation to multiple other fires in the area. At this stage police are not looking for anyone else and we cannot rule out the possibility of other charges being laid," he said.
The man will appear in the Tauranga District Court today.
Peter Chapman, who owns the Piha general store, said it was a relief to know the police had made an arrest in the case, which had brought the community closer together.
"The general feeling is the police have done a wonderful job along with fire investigators and we are also grateful for the fire volunteers in our community that the fires weren't worse," Chapman said.
Police say there have been at least 15 suspicious fires around Piha in the past fortnight.