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Piha fire contained, arson probe continues

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 6/05/2017

Firefighters have halted the last of two major blazes that threatened homes in Piha as police investigate a spate of possible arsons in the area.

About 17 fire crews and two helicopters were at noon dampening down the sites of two now-contained scrub fires that prompted evacuations of homes in the beachside township on Auckland's west coast earlier in the day.

The two fires - one at Tasman Lookout and the other near the Gap - both broke out at about 2am on Sunday as the Fire Service was attending another suspicious blaze that damaged a well-known fish and chip shop in the area earlier in the night.

At its peak, about 20 crews and 90 firefighters were at the scene, with more than seven hectares of scrub being torn through by daylight and 20 nearby properties threatened, a Fire Service spokesman said.

At least one home was evacuated and several others notified about self-evacuations, while many of the properties in the area were unoccupied holiday homes.

A scene guards remained at the shop - near the Piha Surf Lifesaving Club on Sunday morning and investigators were still at the scene at noon.

Police say they're investigating the fires and are calling for residents to report any suspicious behaviour following other reports earlier this month.

"We are aware that there have been a number of reports of suspicious fires in the area this week and are focused on apprehending those responsible," Detective Inspector John Sutton said.

They would also be increase patrols in the area through the day and overnight, he said.

"There is potential for an innocent member of the public to be seriously harmed if this continues."

No injuries have been reported, although ambulances were on standby for firefighters.

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