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Damaged oil drum suggests fatal Franz Josef fire was deliberate, Coroner's inquest told

An oil drum that had already been damaged was among items of interest found at the burned down workshop of Franz Josef mechanic Clive Raymond Jenkins.

A building on fire at Franz Josef.

By Anan Zaki of rnz.co.nz

Jenkins died following a fire at his workshop on 13 September 2016.

At a Coroner's inquest into his death in Christchurch which continued on today, the fire investigator that attended the scene said the blue-200 litre drum was most likely damaged prior to the fire.

The investigator Daniel Greene, who no longer works for Fire and Emergency, said the drum was also missing its lid.

"The damage [on the drum] was not consistent with fire damage," Greene said.

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He said it was one of the key pieces of evidence that led to him concluding that the fire was a deliberate act.

However, the fire investigation could not determine what was inside the drum as the contents inside were no longer present following the blaze.

Jenkins' former partner Michelle May provided fresh evidence today that provided a clue into what might have been inside.

May said the drum often contained a mix of petrol and diesel.

"He often put in diesel or petrol in the blue barrel ... as tourists often mix the wrong fuel [in their cars]," she said.

May and Jenkins split in late 2015, about nine months prior to the fire.

The coroner's court heard yesterday that the two remained in contact after the split - including on the night of the fire - 18 minutes before the 111 call was made by a witness at 7.38pm.

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Franz Josef building on fire: 'Man running around with firearm'

Today's morning's session also revealed firefighters' discovery of a firearm next to Jenkins' body, on the mezzanine floor of the burned down building, which had the workshop and living quarters.

Yesterday, the Coroner heard the 111 call made by the distraught witness - whose name is suppressed - describing that Jenkins had "gone crazy".

Evidence about Jenkins' use of firearms was presented by his close friend Bruce Gibbons yesterday.

Gibbons said Jenkins enjoyed hunting and fishing.

"[Jenkins] normally had his firearms in his lock up cupboard. He was very sensible with the firearms," Gibbons said.

The Coroner's Court also heard yesterday that Jenkins was drinking on the day of the fire.