The inquiry into a fire that has left a mother and one of her three children critically ill is criminal in nature, as the Garda believes the blaze was deliberately started.
Gardaí are now trying to establish if the fire was a vandalism incident that went too far, or an attack aimed at harming people inside the flat in Inchicore, west Dublin.
The scene has been examined and processed by gardaí as a crime scene and all the resources of a major criminal inquiry have been committed to the investigation.
Maggie Green (30) and her three children – two boys aged 13 and 8 years and a 7-year-old girl – were in the flat at Tyrone Place, Thomas Davis Street, at 11pm on Monday when it was engulfed in flames.
Gardaí believe an accelerant, or perhaps a burning object, was thrown through the letter box into the hallway, leading the fire to take hold there and then spread.
Ms Green and her children were helped out of the flat by neighbours. However, the mother and the 8-year-old boy are still in a critical condition at St James’s Hospital.
The family of four was rescued from the back balcony of their first-floor apartment after the fire broke out near the front door, blocking the only exit. The flats are Dublin City Council social housing units.
Neighbour John Kearns said the family was "all covered in smoke, all black" when emergency services took them to safety.
Mr Kearns, who lives on the ground floor directly below the family’s flat, said he heard one of the children screaming at about 11pm on Monday night. “It was terrifying, the screaming and the crying. In minutes the smoke was pumping out the window,” he said.
Fire services, with the help of neighbours, rescued the eldest boy from the burning flat first, followed by the rest of the family.
“The kids were limp in their [emergency services] hands. The next-door neighbour was trapped in her bed as well because of the smoke, she couldn’t get out her front door, and she was gotten out by the fire brigade” Mr Kearns said.
Neighbours on the first floor reported hearing a large bang, followed by several loud popping sounds as the fuse box by the front door caught fire.