Hunt for man with 'facial burns' after unit fire uncovers $30m ice haul

Robert Ovadia

NSW Police have claimed an important victory in their ongoing war on ice and the drug's destructive consequences.

A unit fire in Sydney's northwest has led them to a clandestine lab with $30 million worth of ice inside.

Now on the run, the tenant is believed to be suffering burns to his face.

Firefighters went in to extinguish a blaze late on Monday morning, and when the smoke cleared, they emerged with an investigation into something far bigger.

"Police seized more than 60 kilograms of what we believe is the drug methamphetamine, or 'ice' as it's commonly known," Superintendent John Duncan of Ryde Police said.

Police seized more than 60 kilograms of methamphetamine. Source: 7 News

The $30 million haul at the Epping Grove apartment was all but gift-wrapped by the alleged ice cook, whose fingerprints might have been left near a fire extinguisher outside.

"It's a big shock to police but also a big shock to other occupants of those units. It poses a real danger," Supt Duncan said.

Homes in the new complex were evacuated for five hours.

A bumbling ice cook might have left his fingerprints behind. Source: 7 News

"One fire truck came in, and then just tons of cops," witness Patrick Henville said.

"It's not something you expect to happen," Arun Mohankumer said.

"It's something you hear on the news but if it happens to you, it's been quite a shock."

The apartment's tenant is on the run and is believed to be in his mid-twenties with an olive complexion and likely facial burns.

Approximately three in four clandestine drug laboratories are found in private homes like this one.

Police were called to a unit fire but uncovered something much bigger. Source: 7 News

Police have made 60 similar discoveries in each of the past two years , which is well down on the figure of 100, five years ago.

Crime statistics released on Wednesday found that amphetamine use is down 12.5 per cent.

"It's proactivity of police - they have been relentless in their efforts to stamp this out," Police Minister Troy Grant said.

That proactivity also means more arrests, with cocaine seizures increasing by more than 40 per cent.

Ice use is down 12.5 per cent, statistics reveal. Source: 7 News

Break and enter offences are down, as are thefts from individuals.

However, stealing from stores is up, and in long-term crime statistics, sexual assault offences have nearly tripled since 1990.