Bitter-sweet relief in arson-plagued Piha

Life in the beach-side township is getting back to normal.
SIMON SMITH/FAIRFAX NZ

Life in the beach-side township is getting back to normal.

Piha residents are relieved a suspected arsonist is no longer threatening their homes.

Adrian Doggett, whose fish and chip shop burnt down on May 7, said locals were now more relaxed.

"If they've got the right guy, well that's brilliant, because at least it gives the village closure and people are not so stressed out as they had been."

Adrian Doggett the day his business Adey's Place was gutted.
BEATRICE RANDELL/ FAIRFAX NZ

Adrian Doggett the day his business Adey's Place was gutted.

A 19-year-old man from Piha was charged on Thursday with three counts of arson and one of burglary at the fish and chip shop Adey's Place.

He was due to appear in the Waitakere District Court on May 15 and has interim name suppression.

Doggett said "happy" was not the right word for how he was feeling.

"The damage is already done, regardless who or what is responsible.

"I don't feel much compassion, because my livelihood is on the edge. But I wish the family well and hope they can work through it. It's one of those situations where nobody wins, to be honest."

It was a good result though for the police, the wider community and himself, he said.

Piha Volunteer Fire Brigade chief fire officer Ron Gorter was relieved the arrest happened quickly.

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"Early on in the piece we identified that it was seriously out of character for what was going on in our area normally. So we got the police involved quite early," he said.

"It's been a challenging 10 days."

Firefighters had been busy, including with a couple of false alarms from a vigilant community over the past few days.

Gorter said of the 90 firefighters that responded to the biggest fire, about 70 of them were volunteer firefighters from different brigades, and the others senior management from the New Zealand Fire Service.

Doggett and his wife aimed to get Adey's Place up and running again, but said although insurance would help he was still left "enormously" out of pocket.

"It's just very complicated as it's still a condemned site, and there is asbestos there."

Doggett said he was surprised and heartened by a Givealittle page that had raised more than $1700 for him and his wife.

"It's lovely isn't?" he said.

"I didn't really know anything about it to be honest because I'm not really a Facebook aficionado. I can't believe it to be honest."

 - Stuff

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