The planned search of two properties took place at 8am and the three men were subsequently arrested shortly afterwards where they are being detained at Garda Stations in Carlow and Kildare.
A team of local gardaí were supported by the Armed Support Unit in the searches. Gardaí believe the car was deliberately driven into the premises and set alight.
Fire Brigade units from Carlow Town and nearby Bagenalstown fire station were called to the scene at the Bikini Beach tanning salon on Tullow Street shortly before 5am on Tuesday.
Emergency services managed to safely evacuate the overhead apartments and no-one was injured. There was no-one in the tanning shop at the time of the incident.
Tullow St was closed for several hours as a result and a Garda Technical Examination team carried out a detailed analysis of the scene to gather vital evidence.
Garda Superintendent Aidan Brennan speaking on KCLRFM said: “(The arrests) and detentions are part of the ongoing investigation and the investigations will continue.
“Searches of the premises are ongoing. We are taking what happened extremely seriously. We are investing very serious resources into this. We are very anxious to speak to anyone with information about this.
“Anybody who lights a fire in an occupied building is entirely reckless as to the safety of the occupants of that building.
“It’s a horrendous act. We are going to be intensifying our patrols here around the town in the coming days and weeks in order to prevent any further outbreaks of this nature.”
Gda Supt Brennan added that their investigation is centred on the motive, why it took place and why the building was targeted.
”We had a very serious incident on Tullow Street. Our members responded very quickly and rapidly as did the fire services,” said Supt Brennan.
“There was extensive damage to the shop and the building in general. We alerted all of the residents and everyone was evacuated very quickly and the fire was brought under control by the fire services.
“Thankfully nobody was injured. We were able to alert all of the residents there that were occupied. We are making a particular appeal for witnesses (from around Highfield Estate) or Tullow Street at or around that time of the incident. We have teams out doing house-to-house inquiries and gathering CCTV footage. “
Gardaí are appealing to anyone with information or video footage of this incident to come forward. Gardaí can be contacted at Tullow Garda station on 059 915 1222 or the Garda Confidential Line 1800 666 111.