Arson may have been diversion
Recycling centre, police station targetedKATHRYN KING
Two suspected arson attacks have Tararua police wondering if the culprit was setting up a diversion to lure Pahiatua police out of their station.
The first fire, about 12.07am on Sunday, engulfed the Pahiatua Recycling Centre Building on Queen St, all but razing the centre.
The second fire, started between 1.30am and 2.30am, caused surface damage to a door of the Pahiatua police station.
Detective Sergeant Shane Brown, of the Tararua CIB, said scene examinations from both fires showed they were deliberately lit and an accelerant was used.
Witnesses to the recycling centre fire described seeing flames stretching across the road and huge plumes of smoke. It was unlikely there were two arsonists operating independently in Pahiatua, so police believed the fires were linked.
Patrols had been increased in the community and police were appealing to the public for help in catching the culprits.
The fire at the police station was discovered by two constables when they returned after attending the first fire.
It was starting to make its way up the door and was not far from taking off before the officers put it out, Brown said.
Police are reviewing CCTV footage in the hope those responsible may have been caught on camera.
It was possible the recycling centre had been set alight as a diversion to ensure there were no police in the station. Pahiatua police would be speaking to everyone they had been dealing with in recent days.
"We want to speak to anyone that may have any information about either of these arsons and I encourage them to contact police," Brown said.
"The community can help us by being vigilant and keeping an eye out for any suspicious activity in the area. If you see something that looks a bit dodgy don't discount it, call police immediately."
Tararua District Council chief executive Blair King said there was no no time frame for when the recycling centre would be back up and running, and they were waiting on insurance assessors to survey the damage.
"We'll just be encouraging residents to use kerbside pick-ups or Woodville's recycling centre."
He said the council would be looking at rebuilding rather than relocating.
Anyone with information about the fire is asked to contact Brown on 06 213 9528, or give information anonymously through Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.
- Manawatu Standard
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