BLAZE Fire personnel from Westport extinguishing a truck fire on Saturday evening.
Gardaí investigating blazes in Ballinrobe, Neale, Westport
GARDAÍ have confirmed that they are treating the cause of a fire in Ballinrobe which caused extensive damage to three vacant properties as suspicious.
The fire broke out in the unoccupied building at approximately 9.30am on Monday morning with two units of the fire brigade called to the scene at Bowgate Street in Ballinrobe. The scale of the fire was described as extensive with one of the terraced houses completely gutted while there was considerable damage to the two neighbouring buildings. It is believed the fire may have been raging for up to half an hour before a passerby raised the alarm.
The fire broke out in the middle house in a row of six terrace houses which were developed under ten years ago and are all vacant. A Garda spokesperson told The Mayo News that the scene was investigated by the Scenes of Crime Unit and they are at the moment treating the cause of the fire as suspicious.
“We are at the moment treating this fire as suspicious because we do not believe the fire started by itself. They are newly-built apartments but as far as we can determine they have not been occupied. The scenes of crime unit were at the scene investigating how the fire started,” he said.
How the fire started is not the only mystery surrounding the building with confusion surrounding who actually owns them. The buildings were developed less than ten years ago during the height of the building boom and have been unoccupied for a number of years. An underground carpark is also located underneath the houses.
The Garda spokesperson said they had not yet identified who is the owner and believes that the property may have been abandoned due to the collapse of the property market. Like a number of other unoccupied buildings it is understood that it has been used as a drinking den and the buildings have been vandalised to various degrees.
The fire was brought under control within the hour by the Ballinrobe and Claremorris fire brigade and there were no injuries sustained in the incident. Before it was brought under control, motorists with vehicles parked in a nearby public carpark were advised to remove their cars earlier as a precautionary measure.
Earlier in the week, a family were forced to leave their home in the Neale after a fire which broke out on Thursday afternoon caused considerable damage to a part of the house.
However, the incident could have been much worse had a passing motorist not seen the smoke coming from the house and called the fire brigade. The fire is believed to have started in the kitchen area at the back of the house and apart from extensive damage to that area, it is understood the rest of the building only sustained smoke damage.
The bungalow house is located approximately 100 metres from the local national school and was unoccupied at the time of the fire and there were no injuries. The family have since moved out .
The alarm was raised at approximately 2pm on Thursday afternoon and a local resident told The Mayo News that the damage could have been a lot worse if the alarm wasn’t raised.
“The fire was at the back of the house and you would not know there was a fire from the front. A passer-by noticed the smoke coming from the back of the home and went in to investigate. Had nobody raised the alarm I am sure it would have burnt to the ground.”
The fire brigade and gardaí are investigating the cause of the fire and the cause has not yet been determined.
Meanwhile, in Westport over the weekend, the local fire brigade were twice called to extinguish a fire after a disused pick-up truck, which is parked just off the Westport Greenway across from the fire station, was maliciously set on fire on both Saturday and Sunday evenings. Gardaí are investigating the incidents.
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