GARDAI are investigating whether a fire that claimed the lives of three men in a house in Roscommon could have been a repeat of a recent incident at the same house.
One line of investigation is that the fire began as a result of a cigarette dropped on an armchair after the men had fallen asleep.
One of the three, Ian Finn, had survived a previous fire in the same house just weeks earlier.
Mr Finn (49), originally from London, died alongside John Kerr (26), from Frenchpark, Roscommon; and father-of-three Michael Beirne (48), from Rathcroghan, Roscommon.
Gerry O'Connor, a friend of Mr Finn's, revealed how he had put out a fire in the house a few weeks ago.
Mr Beirne had been in a relationship with Mr Kerr's mother.
"He (Mr Finn) had a habit of falling asleep with a cigarette in his hand and there would be newspapers and all sorts around the room. I had to put out a fire in the house just a few weeks ago. He could have died then.
"He was a quiet, easy-going fella who wouldn't hurt a fly. People were always calling up to him for a drink. There was always someone calling by. He's someone I would have looked out for."
State pathologist Marie Cassidy carried out post- mortems on all three men, which revealed last night that they had died of smoke inhalation.
John Kerr was originally from Ballymun in Dublin but had moved to Frenchpark with his mother and three sisters some years earlier.
Construction worker Michael Beirne, a father of three from Rathcrogan in Co Roscommon, was the partner of Mr Kerr's mother Noelle.
She was yesterday being comforted by her three daughters -- Edel, Natasha and Siobhan -- after formally identifying both her son and her partner.
Mr Finn's elderly mother Rose Eddy, who lives in Roscommon town, also travelled to Galway yesterday to identify her son's remains. His sister Fiona is travelling from England to be with her mother.
It has also emerged that this was the second tragedy to befall the family.
Mr Finn's elder brother Winston took his own life in England more than 20 years ago.
"It's the second family tragedy. His family had done everything they could for Ian but drink and drugs had got a hold of him. It's a tragedy but sadly it felt inevitable," said a relative.
Oliver Ferrick, a close friend of Michael Beirne, said he was in shock, adding: "Michael was a good friend, I can't believe it's him.
"Michael and John would come into Roscommon to socialise. Nine times out of 10 they would go home after. I don't know why they decided to stay this time."
The fire broke out at the derelict house in the early hours of yesterday morning. It began in an armchair in the front room, where the three men are believed to have fallen asleep.
They were discovered slumped on a couch and two chairs in the front room of the house by emergency services who had to force the door to the room. The front door had been left wide open.
Supt Tom O'Connor said the three may have been asleep when the fire began. He added that there was no sign of fire by the time gardai arrived but there was evidence of smoke damage to the room.
Gardai say they are keeping an open mind until they have the results of the toxicology tests; however, they said that no drugs paraphenalia had been found in the initial search of the house.
Roscommon mayor Tom Crosby said the entire town was in shock at the three deaths.
"It's a tragedy for their family and friends but it is also a tragedy for the entire town. I want to express my sincere condolences to the families of these three men," he added.
Mr Finn had recently joined the 'Light for the People Ministry Catholic Apostolic Church' in the town. One of its members, Marcos Silveira, described his death as "a sad loss".
She added: "The church was trying to change his life but unfortunately it did not happen."
Locals in the town told how they had complained to authorities about squatters using the empty house on a number of occasions in recent months.