Mosque fire: police hunt arsonist

21:26, Oct 26 2014

Police are searching for an arsonist who deliberately set fire to an Auckland mosque.

The Avondale Islamic Centre in West Auckland, which has been the centre of extremist teaching allegations, was set alight about 2.40am yesterday.

Fire investigators have assessed the scene of the blaze and confirmed the fire was deliberately lit, a spokesman said this morning.

It was unclear exactly what was used to spark the blaze, a spokesman said.

Fire crews responded after reports of flames inside the storage shed attached to the main mosque building.

The fire was initially thought to be small but once firefighters arrived they saw it was bigger and called for back up, with six trucks arriving at the scene in total, Fire Service northern communications manager Megan Ruru said.

She said the fire was confined to the left rear of the building.

Detective senior sergeant Paul Newman added it was in a storage area outside the mosque.

Fire investigator Michael McEnaney said the damage "wasn't too extensive".

"There's a bit of damage to the storage area but it's not that significant."

The mosque made headlines earlier this year when its former Imam Sheikh Abu Abdullah was banned from the centre after allegedly teaching extreme Islam and encouraging youth to fight overseas.

He denied the allegations.