A HOUSE gutted by an early morning fire will likely have to be demolished because of concerns over its structural safety.
The roof of the detached two-storey home collapsed moments after fire crews had left the building following a search for possible victims.
The fire, at Tobertascain in Ennis, Co Clare, was reported at around 6am – but the property's garage was already "well alight".
The fire had spread through the walls of the timber-framed home and into the attic by the time fire crews arrived.
The occupants of a neighbouring house had to be evacuated while firefighters battled to bring the blaze under control.
Ambulance paramedics and a rapid response advanced paramedic unit remained until fire officers were satisfied that there was no one inside the house.
The owner and sole occupant of the property arrived at the scene about an hour after the alarm was raised. It's understood he had been away for the night.
One neighbour said: "The roof came down very quickly and not long after the fire brigade had finished searching the house. That was frightening."
After spending almost four hours at the scene, fire crews handed the scene over to gardai.
While it is believed the fire began in the garage and spread, the cause was not immediately known.
Gardai are keeping an open mind and have not ruled out that the fire may have been set maliciously.