Gardaí have launched an investigation into the circumstances behind a house fire in Longford town last night barely two weeks after it, together with 40 other social housing units, was opened by the Government.
The blaze at a two bedroom property in the Alderfield estate, Farnagh, Longford town, broke out at around 10:30pm.
Emergency services rushed to the scene in an effort to wrestle control of the fire and prevent it spreading to adjoining houses.
Several neighbours and other locals surrounded the house not knowing whether a father and his young son, who reside at the property, were inside as smoke billowed into the night sky.
The scene itself was cordoned off this morning ahead of a full garda forensic investigation being carried out.
A garda spokesperson said gardaí and emergency services attended a fire at a house that occurred at Farnagh Hill, Longford shortly after 10:30pm last night.
A number of local residents expressed their dismay at the incident.
“Luckily he (owner) wasn’t there,” said local man Shane Collins.
“His sister sometimes comes and stays with him and looks after the child but they were up in Dublin apparently when the guards phoned him.”
“It’s very unusual. I spoke to his neighbour last night and he said he is a nice fella and didn’t see any trouble.
"We were concerned there was somebody in it because we kept ringing the fire brigade but the fire really took hold a couple of minutes after that. You could see a fire in the bedroom, we didn’t see it anywhere else.”
Another local resident spoke of her relief at how no one was inside when the fire broke out.
“People were running to see if anyone was trapped inside because a little boy lives there. There was nothing anyone could do as the whole thing just went up so fast."
The incident comes a little over two weeks since Junior Housing Minister Peter Burke officially opened the €10.8m estate as part of a €17.4m investment under the State’s Social Housing Capital Investment Programme (SHCIP).
Longford Municipal District Cathaoirleach Cllr Gerry Hagan said he had been left “extremely disappointed” at how such an incident could have occurred so soon after the estate was officially opened to the public.
“It’s very disappointing to see a house which was opened by the Minister for Housing only last Monday week being burned to the ground like this,” he said, while expressing his delight that no one was injured as a result.
“Longford County Council will await the outcome of the garda investigation which will now follow and to try and establish what caused the fire.”