Garda investigation sparked after historic school engulfed by blaze
Gardai are investigating after a historic school in Cork was engulfed in flames early on Wednesday morning.
Residents in Mallow, Co Cork, raised the alarm at approximately 3.20am after they saw smoke billowing around the Patrician Academy on Fair Street.
Gardai and emergency services attended the scene, and five units of the Cork City and County Fire service tackled the blaze.
No injuries have been reported.
It is believed that no one was in the building at the time of the fire.
The all-boys secondary school was established in 1886, and the building consists of an old monastery and a modern block of classrooms constructed in the 1970s.
A garda spokesperson told Independent.ie that the fire does not appear to be suspicious.
"The scene is preserved and will be technically examined when safe to do so," the spokesperson said.
"The technical examination will establish whether any criminality occurred."
A number of houses in the surrounding area were evacuated as a precaution and road closures were put in place.
An eye-witness told Red FM's Neil Prendeville Show that the building was completely destroyed as the fire ripped through it.
"At about 3.15am this morning I was woken up by what sounded like firecrackers or bangers, we looked out the window and we could see the building was on fire," Carol Walsh, who lives next door to the school, told the programme.
"When I woke up, it was just smoking, I couldn't see the flames over the roofs of the houses at that time. I rang the guards and within five minutes the flames were high.
"It's completely residential in this area, there are houses surrounding the school. We were watching all the sparks flying over the debris."
When Ms Walsh saw the school a few hours later, she said it had been gutted by the blaze.
"I saw it this morning, the roof is completely gone. The stone walls are still standing but the roofs are completed caved in."
A picture of the remains of the building has been circulated on social media: