Police want the public's help to identify a man seen carrying a 25-litre tank into a self-storage facility shortly before a fire ripped through it.
The fire at the Kiwi Self-Storage facility in Kilbirnie, Wellington affected an estimated 200 units. Some were completely destroyed and many of the contents of the less-affected ground floor units had smoke or water damage.
CCTV images captured shortly before the fire were released by police t day, which show a man wearing a white t-shirt over a black hooded sweatshirt, dark pants, and a white Vodka Cruiser cap and carrying a red, 25-litre carry tank.
Police have confirmed there was an explosion in the unit in which the fire started, but forensic testing was still underway to establish whether the fire caused the explosion or the explosion caused the fire, and if an accelerant was used in the arson.
''We now believe that his was a malicious, deliberate and pre-planned arson. The occupier of the unit where the blaze started is assisting Police with our inquiries but we need the public's assistance to help identify the person shown,'' said detective senior sergeant Grant Ferguson.
Ferguson said yesterday that police had been unable to establish where the owner of the unit in which the fire started lived.
"We are trying to find him, but it is proving quite difficult at the moment."
The arson appeared planned and the person had gone to some effort to cover their face, Ferguson said.
"At this stage, there is no suggestion he is responsible for whatever actually happened. We want to speak to him and find out what was contained in the unit."
Ferguson also said there was no evidence to suggest a connection to a recent suspicious fire at nearby abandoned Miramar South School.
Ferguson added the suspect had not forced entry but he was "not prepared to go into detail" of how they got inside or whether they got in using a code entered into a keypad that limits access to the facility.
Police would still like to speak to anyone who saw anything suspicious in the area around 12.45am on Friday, April 4.
Police are encouraging people wishing to register their loss and be kept up to date on progress to email firstname.lastname@example.org.
- The Dominion Post
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