Fire­works am­bush in Huntly

North Waikato News - - FRONT PAGE - PHILLIPA YALDEN

Fire­fight­ers were am­bushed by a mob of teenagers who lured them to a Huntly street and pelted them with fire­works.

Huntly west res­i­dents de­scribed chaotic scenes as hordes of ‘‘rat­bags’’ armed them­selves with fire­works and paint­ball guns and went at each other in a tit-for-tat war through the streets on Sun­day night.

They then turned on fire­fight­ers and po­lice who re­sponded to emer­gency calls. The crowd lined both sides of the street and fired ex­plo­sives at the fire and po­lice ve­hi­cles.

The in­ci­dent un­folded about 10pm when Huntly fire­fight­ers were called to a fire at the end of Paki Street.

As one of the fire trucks turned off Har­ris Street into Paki, fire­fight­ers en­coun­tered a haze of smoke.

‘‘You could see plenty of peo­ple on ei­ther side of the road,’’ said Huntly sta­tion of­fi­cer Brian Hed­ley, who was in­side the fire truck. ‘‘Then, when we got near, we just got pelted.

‘‘They were aim­ing them at us. There were mul­ti­ple shots from both sides of the truck at once.’’

Fire­fight­ers re­treated un­til po­lice ar­rived, he said.

Around the same time, po­lice re­ceived sev­eral calls from Har­ris Street res­i­dents, re­port­ing peo­ple fight­ing and fire­works be­ing set off, Waikato po­lice Western Area Com­man­der In­spec­tor An­drew Mor­ti­more said.

He said it ap­peared the calls to the Fire Ser­vice were not le­git- imate calls for ser­vice. There was no fire found in Paki Street.

‘‘This sort of be­hav­iour will not be tol­er­ated and we will be tak­ing se­ri­ous ac­tion. This is putting the com­mu­nity as a whole at risk.’’

The first po­lice of­fi­cers on the scene were fired upon mul­ti­ple times with fire­works and paint­ball guns.

One pa­trol car was struck nine times.

Many of the emer­gency ser­vices, espe­cially fire­fight­ers and am­bu­lance per­son­nel, were vol­un­teers, he said.

‘‘This is no way to treat these in­di­vid­u­als.’’

Po­lice would be look­ing to hold peo­ple to ac­count for the at­tack.

Huntly Fire Chief Craig Bush said the in­ci­dent was dis­ap­point­ing.

‘‘They call us out when their bath­room or their kitchen catches fire, then they bloody treat us like that when we’re com­ing to help.

‘‘We’re there to help peo­ple.’’

MARK TAY­LOR/STUFF

New Wetern Waikato area com­man­der In­spec­tor An­drew Mor­ti­more.

Fire chief Craig Bush.

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