An Athlone family had a very lucky escape in the early hours of Friday morning (August 5 ) after a suspected arson attack on their home.
The burnt house is the residence of the son of a man charged with the murder of Marie Greene in February, and who is due to appear for trial next June.
Two units of the Athlone fire brigade were called to the home at 57 Brawney Square at 3am after a call was placed by the occupants.
“The fire was quite extensive, and the heat was so severe it melted the smoke detector off the ceiling,” said a fire service spokesman.
Initial investigations have shown evidence of an accelerant at the seat of the fire in the kitchen, but authorities could not comment any further.
“It appears to be an arson attack. It looks like some sort of accelerant was used while the family was asleep...and there was substantial damage,” said the spokesman. The fire brigade stayed at the scene for an hour and a half.
“They were very, very lucky. If they hadn’t a smoke alarm they’d be dead,” he said.
He went on to point out that this is the second time in three months a working smoke alarm had saved a life in Athlone, and stressed the importance of installing one, and testing it on a regular basis.
A garda source could not comfirm the presence of an accelerant, saying the incident was “still under investigation”.
“We’ve sent some samples for further forensic testing, and we can’t confirm anything until that report is made,” he said.
He did add that gardaí “don’t expect any further incidents”, and he appealed for any witnesses who were in the Brawney area after midnight on the date in question to report any suspicious activity they may have seen to Athlone Garda Station on (090 ) 6498550.