Arson suspect flees scene of earlier blaze
A 19-year-old man was caught by a police dog north of Matamata after he returned to a house he had allegedly attempted to burn down hours earlier.
Police and fire services were called to a house fire at Jagger Rd, Waharoa, shortly before 9pm on April 24.
Matamata volunteer firefighters were able to contain the damage to a small area of the house.
Sergeant Graham McGurk said it was clear the fire had been started intentionally and police had been concerned a ‘‘firebug’’ might be operating in the area.
A second Jagger Rd house had been set on fire at least twice and was eventually burnt down on April 18.
Security was placed at the scene of the latest fire for the night until investigations could continue in daylight.
Early in the morning a security guard disturbed a man walking in bare feet at the property, Mr McGurk said.
He took off on foot into surrounding farmland and a police dog and handler were brought from Hamilton to help find him.
The dog tracked the man to a local address, where the 19-year-old came at the dog with a mallet.
The dog latched onto the offender’s arm and restrained him until police were able to make an arrest.
‘‘It was an outstanding piece of police work by Matamata, Morrinsville and Hamilton Police, ’’ Mr McGurk said:
Matamata Chief Fire Officer Kevin Curtis said they were relieved the offender had been caught.
The man has been charged with three counts of arson and has been remanded in custody to appear in court on May 21.