- The man in a standoff with police in Levin has been found alive. He is in a critical condition.
- Smoke was seen billowing from the house as fire crews worked on a fire.
- Onlookers saw orange flashes followed by smoke and a burning smell about 7.30pm.
- About 80 people were evacuated from their nearby properties on Thursday night. They are now able to return home.
The man who had been barricaded inside a Levin house since Thursday has been taken to hospital in a critical condition, after a fire broke out on Friday night.
Emergency services entered the house on Bledisloe St after the fire was put out, police said. After checking the house, police have confirmed it is now safe for residents to return to their homes.
The man inside the property has been taken to hospital to be treated for smoke inhalation. His dog was also found alive and was being cared for.
Onlookers at the scene were sombre and quiet as a stretcher appeared, a Stuff reporter in Levin said.
The standoff between a man inside the Bledisloe St property and armed police began about 4.30pm on Thursday. Dozens of neighbours were forced to leave their homes as a precaution.
On Friday shortly after 7pm, onlookers Danny and Jacob Hoeta said they saw orange flashes, followed by smoke billowing from the house and a burning smell.
Emergency services could be seen spraying water on the house which was lit up by spotlights from a large truck at the scene.
A resident from one of the neighbouring streets, Jason Larsen, said the man living in the house had boarded up the windows and doors in the months before the incident.
He said that the man had built a fence out the front and spray-painted it with anti-government slogans.
The veranda at the front of the house has also been deconstructed by the man, Larsen said.
On Friday morning a police spokesperson said the self-harm related incident was ongoing. A police negotiation team was in communication with the person.
Manawatū area commander Inspector Sarah Stewart fronted a media conference on Friday afternoon, but could offer few details.
Police were taking the incident “very seriously”, she said. No information was given about whether the man, understood to be Paul Kenneth Smith, was armed or how police intended to end the standoff.
“We are communicating with the individual involved and are very hopeful we can resolve this safely.”
Manawatū Area Commander Sarah Stewart and mayor Bernie Wanden could offer little information at the stand up.
On Thursday morning Smith called Stuff‘s Manawatū newsroom in an agitated state, saying he was about to be evicted, that he has weapons and chemicals at the property and will resist attempts to remove him.
Police were notified.
Some residents said they had been told there was a “bomb” scare, while others said the evacuation related to “chemical weapons”.
Stewart said this information had not been provided by police.
“There’s a lot of detail I can’t confirm at this time,” she told media.
Smith has made several social media posts since the incident began, airing his grievances.
Cobham St is blocked off at Meadowvale Drive. Freyberg St is closed off at Bledisloe St.
Cobham St resident Tyla Porteous found herself shut inside the cordon with her 1-year-old son and partner.
About 6pm on Thursday night, as they were preparing to evacuate, police told them it was now it was too late and to get back inside their home. Just them and one other household had not been evacuated.
Police had blocked off her driveway, which was being used as a set-up point.
She said the man at the property, which was next door to hers, was a “good neighbour” who “just wants to live in his house”.
“I just want to give him a cuddle. Paul is a good neighbour.”
On Friday morning, Porteous and her partner took food and drinks out for emergency services volunteers who had been out all night, but were immediately told to get back inside.
Bledisloe Street in Levin is closed off by police as they negotiate with a man who has barricaded himself in his home.
There was a Co2 oxygen chamber in her driveway and people with masks come in, redress, and refill their tanks about every hour.
’A QUIET MAN’
Chris Clark said he used to mow Smith’s lawns until about four years ago.
He said he remembered him as a quiet and reserved man who kept to himself, but had very little family.
After a “violent” break-in at the home about three years ago, Smith had installed security cameras, he said.
Kathleen Clarke approached officers at the cordon angrily about 10am on Friday morning, explaining her 2-year-old son, Keizha-Ray, was inside. He had been staying with her sister, who lives on Bledisloe St.
She said her sister wasn’t door-knocked to be evacuated and when she realised what was happening she was told by police it was too late – no-one was allowed in or out of the cordon.
“I came to drop her off some nappies and it was blocked off, so I had to jump the fence down Liverpool [Street] last night. They still won’t let me get him today, unless I jump the fence again,” she said
About 45 minutes later, Clarke was able to get her son back, with assistance from police. Her sister stayed in the cordon as she did not want to leave her dogs.
Stewart said the incident was understandably “distressing” for residents who had to leave their homes.
“We know it can be upsetting to be asked to leave your home – especially when we’re not able to say much about the incident that’s prompted this – but public safety must always be our number one priority and we thank those affected for their co-operation.”
“The welfare of the displaced residents is very important and we’re grateful to Horowhenua District Council staff who are assisting with temporary accommodation, when displaced residents don’t have family or friends nearby to stay with.”
A Cobham St resident, who declined to be named, said she and her son were evacuated at about 6pm on Thursday night with their two dogs, after going outside to find several police cars and fire engines.
She went to a welfare centre set up at the library. Dozens of other people who had been evacuated were there, including families with children and babies.
“People were shocked, some people were upset.”
The woman and her son stayed with friends and she had to put one of her dogs in the pound overnight, as it couldn’t be around cats at her friend’s home. Her son tried to take his dog home on Friday morning, but was told he couldn’t get in.
Bledisloe St was quiet, with many families living on it, she said.
A Norrie St resident, who declined to be named, said she slept in her car with her husband overnight after being evacuated at about 4.30pm on Thursday. They were able to return later to pick up some medication.
“We could’ve gone to Foxton or to a motel but we thought it might be finished soon and we could go back to our house, so that’s why we hung around,” she said.
“[I got] probably about two hours of broken sleep.”
Some evacuated residents, including her neighbours, were put up at a nearby campground, she said.
Where to get help
1737, Need to talk? Free call or text 1737 to talk to a trained counsellor.
Kidsline 0800 54 37 54 for people up to 18 years old. Open 24/7.
Lifeline 0800 543 354
Rural Support Trust 0800 787 254
Samaritans 0800 726 666
Suicide Crisis Helpline 0508 828 865 (0508 TAUTOKO)
Anxiety New Zealand 0800 ANXIETY (0800 269 4389)
If it is an emergency, click here to find the number for your local crisis assessment team.
In a life-threatening situation, call 111.