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Body found at scene of Franz Josef blaze

NZ Newswire logoNZ Newswire 14/09/2016

A man's body has been found at the scene of a fire in Franz Josef, police said.

More to come...


Police are looking for a man last reported to be carrying firearms wrapped in a blanket and driving a bulldozer amid a commercial premises engulfed in flames at Franz Josef on the West Coast.

Police were called to Franz Josef Mechanical on Donovan Drive on Tuesday evening.

A witness, who did not want to be named, says a distraught woman at the scene told him she and her partner had had a fight and he was in the burning building.

She was sopping wet, possibly from the sprinkler system, he told Newshub.

He couldn't get close to the workshop, which had a house attached, because of the heat.

The building is currently unstable but investigators are hoping to get inside as it has been identified as an "area of interest".

"We need to ensure the building is safe to enter before we can send in staff to continue their inquiries," says acting West Coast Area Commander, Senior Sergeant Vicki Walker.

In a statement on Wednesday morning, police confirmed they received a call from the man's partner, saying he was driving a bulldozer over the property and the house, which was also a workshop, was on fire.

Police believed the man had a number of firearms wrapped in a blanket and that he was carrying a barrel of oil in the bulldozer's bucket.

Because the fire was so severe and firearms were involved they could do nothing but try and minimise the risk to nearby residents and property, Sen Sgt Walker said.

She said police are not aware of any threats being made to anyone during the incident.

"As previously stated, with the information we have gathered at this stage, police do not believe that there is a risk to any other person following the incident last night," she says.

The man's partner was being cared for by nearby residents and police.

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