Three people will appear in court today on drugs and arson
charges after a suspected P-lab erupted in flames during an
armed police raid.
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 executed a search warrant and arrested three people at
A 35-year-old Katikati man, a 37-year-old Maketu man and a
26-year-old Tauranga woman will appear in Tauranga District
Court this morning.
They are jointly charged with arson and conspiring to
Police will examine the scene today to establish the cause of
They said it was not possible to confirm whether there was a
methamphetamine lab at the site until the examination was
Residents said a group of young people had been living in the
A neighbour, who would not be named, said it appeared all of
their possessions were destroyed in the blaze, including a
"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
"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.