A man with an axe at a scene of a house fire in Hastings reportedly tried to chop the hoses of firefighters, before being led away by police, witnesses say.
Smoke poured from the house on Maddison St, near Heretaunga St East, from about 11.20am to 12.20pm, as emergency services were called to the scene.
A crowd of dozens watched as firefighters fought the blaze, having to be moved back by police, because of the risk of an explosion.
Neighbours described a chaotic scene that started when flames began to lick the building, spreading through the one-storey house "very fast".
A man who lives on the street, who did not want to be named, believed a man with an axe responded to the arrival of firefighters by attempting to chop their hoses as they pulled them out to fight the fire.
Police arrived quickly and took the man away, the man said. They also set up a cordon on the road preventing through traffic.
He said the old wooden house had essentially acted as kindling for the fire.
A police spokesperson said firefighters were initially prevented from accessing the scene, before police located a person.
A 68-year-old man was arrested in relation to the incident and will appear in Hastings District Court tomorrow, charged with arson.
No-one had been injured in the fire, police said.
A fire communications spoke person referred all comment to police.
Half and hour later fire and emergency services attended another fire in Hastings, this time in the Hastings business district.
At 11.47 two appliances responded to a building fire at BNT Automotive, at the corner of Tomoana Road and Queen Street West, Hastings.
A spokeswoman said there was a small fire in the upper floor of the building, which was extinguished quickly.
No injuries were reported.
Two other fires, one in Mayfair, Hastings and the other in Pirimai, Napier kept crews from the fire service busy.
Both were rubbish fires- a backyard rubbish fire and a rubbish fire behind a shop.