Michael Crowe, 81, died in hospital after his son, Tommy, made a courageous attempt to rescue his pensioner father from the burning semi-detached home in Newbridge, Co Kildare.
Only a few hours before the fatal blaze, gardaí had been called to the family home in Pairc Mhuire after a brick was thrown through the glass of the front door at 2.15am.
An investigation focused last night on whether a fire four hours later at around 6am was deliberately started in the home or if an accelerant was used to light the door’s curtains.
Son Tommy, in his 40s and a civilian employee at the local Curragh Military camp, was transferred to St James Hospital burns unit yesterday from Naas General Hospital with severe burns to his face and hands. His mother, Betty, 73, was continuing last night to recover from smoke inhalation at Naas General Hospital.
Shocked locals were in fear after the fatal fire, according to councillor and neighbour Paddy Kennedy. “There are a lot of elderly people here and they are very afraid at the moment because of the fire, especially because there’s talk of suspicion.”
Mr Kennedy, also chairman of the residents’ association, added: “It’s heartbreaking for everybody involved, especially the family. The son got burnt trying to save his father. They’re a lovely family, I have no reason whatsoever to believe they would be targeted.”
A robbery was carried out in the housing estate on the same night and gardaí were investigating if there was any connection to the fire.
One local said that the son, Tommy, told emergency services in the early hours while being carried away from the blaze that the Crowe family were “being targeted in some way”.
Officially, gardaí said that following an initial examination by its technical team, one line of inquiry being followed was that the fire was started deliberately.
Anyone who was in the area between 1am and 6am or saw anyone acting suspiciously is asked to contact Newbridge gardaí on 045-440180.