A teenage associate of gang leader Owen Maguire is the chief suspect in a terrifying petrol-bomb attack on a family home.
A woman and her three young children were lucky to escape from their Drogheda home alive.
The attack happened on Monday night while the 30-year-old mother and her children, all under the age of 10, were inside. The completely innocent family were forced to escape out of a first-floor window with the help of neighbours after a petrol bomb was thrown at the house.
At this stage detectives believe the house was targeted because a man known to the woman, but who is thought not to reside at the house, owes a €2,000 drugs debt.
Gardaí are investigating whether the Maguire gang, one of the crime groups involved in the deadly Drogheda feud, were behind the petrol bombing.
A 17-year-old, who has previously been investigated for similar crimes, last night emerged as a chief suspect in the attack.
Investigators are also braced for further violence in the town after receiving "credible intelligence" that associates of Owen Maguire intended returning to Drogheda to carry out a fresh spate of fire bombings linked to drug debt-collection and intimidation.
One source said: "There is credible intelligence that criminals working for the Maguires are returning to Drogheda to ramp up their debt-collecting efforts. This may involve further petrol-bomb attacks, and gardaí fear a fresh outbreak of violence."
Senior criminals on both sides of the dispute went to ground following the murder of teenager Keane Mulready Woods (17) last January.
It was the fourth murder connected to the Drogheda feud.
In recent months, gardaí have had several significant seizures against both drugs networks in the town.
No arrests have been made in relation to Monday night's petrol-bomb attack in the Laurence's Park area and gardaí have been reviewing CCTV footage in an attempt to identify those involved.
The blaze broke out at about 9.30pm when an accelerant, believed to be a petrol bomb, was thrown through the front door of the house.
Neighbours noticed the fire and helped the family escape from a top-floor window and avoid serious injuries.
Three units of the Louth fire brigade attended the scene and treated the family for smoke inhalation .
The woman and her young children only recently moved into the property, which suffered serious internal damage as a result of the fire.
A source said: "They are completely innocent.
"This incident isn't directly linked to feuding in the area but gardaí are investigating the involvement of the Maguire crime group as part of their debt-collection efforts," the source added.
Yesterday, gardaí remained at the scene as forensic experts carried out examinations of the property and the area around it.
A Garda spokesman said they responded to the incident around 9.40pm along with fire services and paramedics.
"The fire was quickly brought under control but considerable damage was caused to the property," the spokesman said.
"An investigation into all of the circumstances of the fire has commenced, the scene is currently preserved for forensic examination, no arrests have been made to date and enquires are ongoing," he added.