Scenes of Crime Officers from An Garda Siochana started their investigation this morning into the cause of a fire which destroyed a house at Parkhill, Ballyshannon.
The house had been earmarked by Donegal County Council for a Traveller family of 12 and controversy over the decision by Donegal County Council to buy the house erupted over the past month.
The gardaí will only say that the fire was “suspicious”. There has been no official confirmation that the fire was indeed arson, although the word arson has been used by a number of people commenting on the fire.
Yesterday gardaí made a brief, preliminary investigation at the scene of the fire, but, as reported by Democrat online yesterday, they were instructed not to enter the building as it had been deemed unsafe by the fire authorities.
At 9.30am today a local contractor removed a steel girder from the roof space and knocked the right hand gable wall of the house to render the building safe.
The left hand gable was not touched, suggesting investigators think the ‘seat’ or starting point of the fire was somewhere in the right hand side of the building.
The Democrat understands the Scenes of Crime team - two officers based in Letterkenny - should be finished their investigations by lunch time.
Samples of debris will be taken from the scene today and brought to the forensic science lab in the Phoenix in Dublin for examination.
It’s understood results may not be available for several days.
The forensic team, we understand, are looking for evidence of an accelerant such as diesel/petrol or other such substances. If an accelerant is found, this would point to arson as the cause of the blaze.
Meanwhile, Inspector Denis Joyce, Ballyshannon Gardaí renewed the garda appeal for information. “Gardaí are treating this in a most serious manner and a full investigation has commenced,” he told the Democrat. Anyone who was in the Parkhill area between one and four am on Monday, or anyone with possible information, should contact the garda confidential line on 1800 666111 or 071-98-58530.