4 Sep 2018

West Auckland explosion 'like a massive, massive firework'

11:17 am on 4 September 2018

A body has been found after an explosion and fire near Swanson Road, Henderson.

Debris from the explosion can be seen through the fence of a neighbouring property.

Debris from the explosion can be seen through the fence of a neighbouring property. Photo: RNZ / Anneke Smith

Cita Shanks, who lives at a neighbouring property, said the sound of the explosion was unlike anything she has heard before.

"Like a massive, massive firework, you know when you go to the displays? It would probably be like that, but times ten maybe.

"It was a huge noise, I've never heard such a loud bang actually," she said.

The smell of burnt wire and chemicals came from the site following the explosion, Ms Shanks said.

A local dairy owner said her store shook from the force of the explosion near Swanson Road.

Faitasia Thieme lives opposite the property and said once they heard a loud bang, neighbours swarmed on to the street.

"There was everybody standing and all the cars stopped watching what was going on," she said.

The police said it is too early to determine what caused the explosion and they are continuing their investigation

Emergency services were called after a loud blast was heard in the West Auckland suburb just before 5pm yesterday. Police later confirmed that a body had been found.

Close to the site, Lower Don Buck Road Superette owner Kanchan Chauhan said it felt like her heart was about to fall out when she heard the explosion.

"We just heard a massive thud, it was like an explosion, I knew it wasn't a car or an accident, it was just a different impact."

Ms Chauhan said there were even strips of metal hanging up on the tree afterwards.

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Photo: RNZ / Anneke Smith

Ms Chauhan said that her shop was on solid concrete foundation but it shook from the explosion which was a few doors down from her dairy.

"The staff and I we just didn't know what to do, we sort of panicked."

She said she ran to the takeaway next door to make sure it was not a gas explosion from the cooker and the owners of the business were also petrified.

Black smoke billowed up from the scene for a while after the incident and that was when she realised it was an explosion.

She said she thought the explosion may have been from a shed down a drive-way.

There were a series of ongoing smaller explosions and she put the shutters down on her shop to prevent any damage, and that there was a foul chemical-like smell afterwards, she said.

Ms Chauhan said the neighbourhood speculation is it could have been a methamphetamine lab.

Police said the public should avoid the area if possible while inquiries were underway.

Debris from the blast.

Debris from the blast. Photo: RNZ / Anneke Smith