Gardaí believe that a Co Carlow tanning and beauty salon, which was destroyed by fire after a car was driven into it in the early hours of Tuesday, may have been targeted deliberately.
The incident occurred at Bikini Beach on Tullow Street in Carlow Town at around 5am. It was unclear if the car caught fire due to the crash or if it was set alight after being reversed through the front of the salon.
The force of crash effectively demolished the shopfront before the flames destroyed the tanning salon on the ground floor. Smoke damage was caused to at least one neighbouring business premises. A number of first and second floor apartments above the shops were evacuated.
A passerby recorded the fire as it engulfed the building and flames bellowed out onto the street. There were no reports of any injuries though very significant damage was caused to the building.
The blaze was eventually brought under control by firefighters from Carlow and Bagenalstown, with Tullow Street remaining closed on Tuesday.
The tanning salon was sealed-off to allow for an examination by fire investigators and members of the Garda Technical Bureau. The badly burnt vehicle was also due to be examined in an attempt to establish if there was accelerant inside.
Gardaí were investigating reports that the vehicle was reversed up to the building before it crashed through the shopfront. Efforts to contact the business owners on Tuesday were not successful.
Garda Headquarters confirmed the force was “at the scene of an incident on Tullow Street” in Carlow in which “a car collided with a building” at about 5am.
“A fire broke out at the premises following the collision and fire services attended the incident to extinguish the fire,” said a Garda statement.
Gardaí in Carlow have conducted door to door inquiries in the area and were also gathering CCTV footage, including from businesses close to where the incident happened. Anyone who may have video footage taken in the Tullow Street area around the time of the incident is asked to contact (059) 9151222.