Piha residents devastated as arsonist targets Adey's Place

Piha residents have been left heartbroken after a suspicious fire wrecked popular fish and chip shop Adey's Place.

Firefighters suspect an arsonist started three fires in the west Auckland community overnight and residents say there have been a string of blazes in recent weeks.

Kaya Prebble works at Adey's Place and lives nearby, but when she raced down in the middle of the night, it was too late.

She's been left fighting back tears since the early hours.

"It's a great place and I just feel heartbroken for them and just everyone in the community, because people have just been starting fires for quite a while now," she says.

Adey's Place, which draws fish and chips fans from across the Auckland region, went up in flames at the same time two fires were sparked on scrubland above the township at Tasman Lookout and the Gap.

It's the latest in more than a dozen fires over recent days, and Ms Prebble says residents have been left with a "really deep anger".

"I think everyone just wants to catch the people and for it to stop, and I think everyone's quite scared as well because it's only been scrub fires so far and now they're targeting buildings," she says.

Adrian Doggett, who runs the cafe, was racing back from a holiday in Fiji on Sunday.

Ms Prebble says his first thoughts were for her and the 14 others he employs.

The building's been standing for 70 years and the owner for the past 40 years, who lives at the back, says he was out at the time.

From the air, the scale of the destruction was clear, with fire chiefs scouring the hillside for signs any other blazes were attempted.

"There could be an arsonist here and that's what we need to investigate," fire chief Rory Renwick says.

Meanwhile firefighters were busy on the scarred ground dampening down hotspots in scrub that's easily flammable.

"Crews have had to pump a long way, and they're working in some challenging terrain; it's thick vegetation and it's quite steep," Mr Renwick says.

As anger mounts in the tightknit community, police say they'll be increasing patrols in the Piha area on Sunday night.