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House fire victim respected shooter and 'fine man'

The victim of a house fire in Watson has been described by friends as a ''fine man'' and as a well-respected member of Canberra's sporting shooting community.

Police are investigating the death of 65-year-old Jim McKinley, whose body was found in the ruined remains of an Antill Street home, which was gutted by fire on Sunday night.

Mr McKinley's death comes less than a week from his birthday.

One friend, who wished to remain anonymous, said Mr McKinley was well-respected and well-known among the shooting community.

''A fine man, a very nice gentleman who had a great respect for firearms,'' the friend said.

''He was very well known and very well respected in the sporting shooting community.''


There were a number of explosions heard during the fire, and Fairfax understands there were issues in deeming the house safe on Monday.

Neighbours have told Fairfax they believe the explosions they heard were from ammunition kept on the premises.

''The deceased victim was a regular rifle and pistol shooter,'' resident Bob Vallance said.

Fire crews and police responded to reports of a house fire on Antill Street near Fison Street shortly after 10pm on Sunday night.

After the fire was brought under control, the body of a 65-year-old man, believed to be a resident of the home, was found towards the back of the property.

Initial investigations indicate the fire started in the garage, before spreading to the house. A crime scene has been established and the cause of the fire is being investigated, however detectives and forensics are waiting for the site to be deemed safe before work can begin.

One nearby resident, Teig Sadhana, heard what he first thought were fireworks in his street at about 10pm on Sunday evening.

They turned out to be explosions from his next-door neighbour's Antill street home and by the time he stepped outside to investigate, the house was fully ablaze.

''The flames were reaching the tree-tops on the trees between our two houses,'' the teenager said.

''It was absolutely harrowing.

''We could hear the man next door screaming but the flames were too big to go in and help. We called the fire brigade and then started hosing down the fence and all of the trees.'' Teig, 17, and his brother were home alone while their parents are on holiday in southern Tasmania.

''We haven't even been able to reach them to tell them because they are also in fire-affected area; it's so scary,'' Teig said. The occupants of the razed home were described as a middle-aged couple who would save their food scraps for the family's chickens.

''This is sobering, it shows how fragile life is,'' Teig said.

Police and ACT Fire and Rescue said they were alerted to the fire on Antill Street shortly after 10pm on Sunday.

Five pumpers, support vehicles, and an ambulance were sent to the scene.

The fire was contained to the single property and a woman was ''assessed at the scene, but sustained no injuries''.

Correction: This article initially reported that Mr McKinley fought in the Battle of Long Tan. This is incorrect.