P lab explosion house torn down

STEVE HOPKINS
Last updated 10:23 06/12/2012

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Housing New Zealand has begun demolishing an Auckland house that caught fire in a suspected P lab explosion and will prosecute the tenants to recover costs.

Fire crews were called to a state house in Chantal Pl, Papakura, where they found the home and garage well ablaze.

A police spokeswoman said there were items in the garage that suggested a methamphetamine lab was in operation.

Fire investigators believed a ''vapour explosion of some sort'' triggered the blaze, she said.

Two woman have been charged with allowing the premises to be used to make methamphetamine and have appeared in the Papakura District Court. 

A child living at the house was taken by Child Youth and Family and is being cared for by family members.

Contractors began demolishing the house and garage for Housing NZ yesterday.

The Government department plans to prosecute the tenants to recover the cost.

"We do not tolerate illegal activity of any kind in state houses and will be providing the police with every assistance during the investigation," Housing NZ South Auckland manager Denise Fink said. 

"We will take action against those responsible through the courts to recover the costs of demolishing and replacing this state house."

She said staff were trained to spot signs of methamphetamine production and during an inspection in April, nothing was evident at the Chantal Pl house.  

Fink said a neighbouring state house has had no power since the fire and staff were working with the tenants to find alternative accommodation.

She said Housing NZ doesn't tolerate tenants using their premises to commit crimes and will evict them when they have proof. It also seeks payment for damage done and if it isn't forthcoming, takes court action. 

In 2009 Housing NZ won a test case seeking more than $180,000 from tenants who made P in a Napier state house. The house was so badly contaminated that it had to be demolished in 2004.

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