Levin’s confrontation ends with a fiery end as the residents of Bledisloe St return to a sense of normalcy

  • Police say residents evacuated due to the Levin crisis can return home. They say that there is no constant danger to society.
  • About 80 people were evacuated from their nearby properties
  • Police said Saturday morning that the man at the Levine Encounter Center is at Palmerston North Hospital with moderate injuries
  • Understandably, Paul Smith was the man who was holed up inside.

Residents of Levin Bledisloe and the surrounding areas have a sense of life returning to normal after a tense standoff between police and a man hiding in a house that ends up on fire and the man is in the hospital.

There is still a police presence in the area, with a guard outside the house. Scene tests will continue today.

Police said in a statement on Saturday morning that the man was in Palmerston North Hospital with moderate injuries. His condition was initially reported as critical on Friday night.

The statement said the officers will go door to door today to speak with residents and ensure they have support.

Read more:
* Levin encounter: a man in critical condition after a fire
* 80 people still couldn’t go home while the man trapped himself in Levin’s house

Bledisloe Street was still and quiet on a Saturday morning. A police car was seen in front of the property where the fire broke out.

There is a burnt hole in the ceiling and another hole can be seen through a smashed window.

The passing car can be seen occasionally, and people are curious to see what is left of the house.

Andy Smith, a Freiberg resident, said he was not home at the time of the fire and went out to see the aftermath.

The first thing he noticed when he woke up was the lack of bright lights in his bedroom, which were centered outside his house. His house was outside the cordon, and he was not asked to vacate.

Andy Smith, a Levine resident, was laid to rest outside the cordon that was removed Friday night.
Jericho Rock Archer / Stuff

Andy Smith, a Levine resident, was laid to rest outside the cordon that was removed Friday night.

“I was expecting the house to be toast, but it looks very salvageable,” Smith said. The incident was “a bit worrying”.

“There were all kinds of reports of bombs and chemicals… We didn’t really know what the hell was going on.”

His friends suggested he evacuate and it crossed his mind, but Smith decided to stay put. “I’m not in the direct line of fire.”

Smith said he lived in their house for 16 years and the neighborhood was “very quiet”. The neighbors generally kept walking, he said, but mostly kept to themselves.

“This kind of thing for Levin… something of this kind is very rare. It doesn’t get that far.”

He did not know the man at the center of the accident well and did not see him often, but he watched the condition of the house deteriorate over the course of several months.

New extensions to the fencing and window panels were built.

Gas bottles were seen outside the house on Saturday morning.

Jericho Rock Archer

Gas bottles were seen outside the house on Saturday morning.

Smith said it was a relief that the neighbors were able to go home. “It’s good to be able to get back to normal now.”

Late Friday, evacuees were allowed to go home after being asked to leave Thursday afternoon.

The incident was resolved late Friday evening, after the man was found alive after the fire. The man had been barricaded inside since Thursday.

It took fire brigades “a significant amount of time” to put out the fire. The man’s dog was also found alive.

A new day revealed the extent of the damage to the house.  The man holed up inside was taken to hospital in critical condition Friday night after the fire.

Jericho Rock Archer / Stuff

A new day revealed the extent of the damage to the house. The man holed up inside was taken to hospital in critical condition Friday night after the fire.

Police said Bledisloe St residents expect to see a continued police presence on the street in the coming days as well, “but we want to reassure residents that there is nothing to worry about.”

“We know this incident has been extremely upsetting to those residents who were evacuated, as well as deeply concerning to the wider community,” Manawatu District Commander Sarah Stewart said in a statement.

Earlier Friday evening, Danny and Jacob Hoeta said they saw orange flashes, which were followed by smoke rising from the house and a burning smell after 7 p.m.

Emergency services on standby approached the property to spray the house with water, illuminating the area with spotlights from a large truck.

Firefighters were seen outside the house on Friday night when a fire broke out.  The fire was eventually extinguished.

Warwick Smith/Stuff

Firefighters were seen outside the house on Friday night when a fire broke out. The fire was eventually extinguished.

One onlooker, Fergus Hughes, said his in-laws were only a few homes away from home.

“I don’t really think about a lot of other things. I just worry about them and how they are going forward.”

How did you start

The confrontation between a man inside the Bledisloe St building and armed police began around 4.30pm on Thursday.

Dozens of neighbors were forced to leave their homes as a precaution.

Jason Larsen, a resident of an adjacent street, said the man living in the house had closed windows and doors in the months leading up to the accident.

He said the man erected a fence in the front and painted anti-government slogans on it.

Larsen said the veranda at the front of the house had been torn down by the man.

things

Manawatu District Leader Sarah Stewart and Mayor Bernie Wanden can provide a bit of information on the situation.

At a news conference on Friday, police did not provide any information on whether the man, known to be Paul Kenneth Smith, was armed.

On Thursday morning, Smith called thingsThe Manawatu Liberation Room is on a rampage, saying that he is about to be evicted, that he has weapons and chemicals on the property and will resist attempts to remove it. The police have been notified.

Some residents said they were told there were “bomb” fears, while others said the evacuation involved “chemical weapons.”

AOS turns its attention to a property in Bledisloe St, Levin on Friday morning.

David Unwin/Staff

AOS turns its attention to a property in Bledisloe St, Levin on Friday morning.

Stewart said this information was not provided by the police.

“There are a lot of details that I can’t confirm at the moment,” she told the media.

Smith has made several posts on social media since the incident began, expressing his grievances.

Cobham Street is closed on Meadowvale Drive. Freyberg St on Bledisloe St. has been closed.

Neighbors are asked to stay clear as the confrontation begins

Cobham St resident Tila Porteous found herself locked inside a garland with her son and one-year-old partner.

Around 6pm on Thursday evening, as they were preparing to evacuate, the police told them it was now too late to go home. Not only they and another home were evacuated.

Police closed her car driveway, which was used as a residence point.

A police negotiating team has been in contact with the man inside the Bledisloe Street property.

David Unwin/Staff

A police negotiating team has been in contact with the man inside the Bledisloe Street property.

The man next door to her, she said, was a “good neighbor” who “just wanted to live in his house.”

“I just want to hug him. Paul is a good neighbor.”

On Friday morning, Porteous and her partner ate food and drink for emergency services volunteers who had been out all night, but were promptly told to go back inside.

There was an oxygen room in her driveway, and masked people would come in, fix up, and refill their tanks about every hour.

The security assistance desk was outside the house on Friday as police negotiated with the man who was shielded inside.

David Unwin/Staff

The security assistance desk was outside the house on Friday as police negotiated with the man who was shielded inside.

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