A TODDLER was still clinging to life today as her mother remained under intensive care at a hospital 80 kilometres away after fire gutted their home.
Little Maddie Maloney (2) suffered internal bleeding from severe smoke inhalation in the fire at the house in Mullingar.
Her mother, Sharon Gahan, also suffered serious injuries in the blaze while three sibling were hurt jumping for their lives from an upstairs window.
A major garda investigation has been launched following suggestions that bags of clothes outside the front door of their home were deliberately set on fire.
Gardai and a neighbour risked their lives to enter the smoke-filled property and rescued the family after the blaze broke out in the Grange Crescent estate at around 2am yesterday.
Maddie, who survived heart surgery last year, was found hiding under her cot in an upstairs bedroom.
She was described as being in an "extremely critical condition" in Crumlin Children's Hospital while her mum was critical in the intensive care unit of the Midlands Regional Hospital in Mullingar.
A friend of the family told the Herald today that the whole community was hoping Maddie and her mum would make a full recovery.
"The house is in absolute bits. We are really hoping they will be okay. Sharon is still in intensive care and Maddie was the last to be pulled from the house."
The family's neighbour, Bertie Crichton (28), assisted officers Brian Craven and Vinnie Reynolds and a member of the local Regional Support Unit in dragging the children to safety. The officers were also treated in hospital, along with Maddie's sisters Kelly (13), Molly (7) and Sophie (6).
Mr Crichton, said: "I heard a loud bang. I went to the house and saw the whole front door and front stairs were on fire. I heard screaming from the back of the house.
"I climbed up to the top window ledge and grabbed the children."