A heavily pregnant woman and a man had to jump from the upstairs window of a Dundalk house after a suspected arson attack yesterday.
A four-year-old girl was taken to safety from the upstairs window while two other adults escaped from the ground floor as flames raced through the two-storey end-of-terrace house.
It is believed that a petrol bomb was the source of the blaze, which consumed the downstairs of the house.
The injured woman is believed to be at least seven months pregnant.
A garda spokesperson said an investigation is under way into the terrifying blaze at the house in Clontygora Court, Dundalk, Co Louth, which broke out at about 3.35am.
Speaking to LMFM radio yesterday, one woman told how she desperately tried to save her family.
"You couldn't see your hand in front of you. I tried to get my daughter-in-law down the stairs because she's seven and a half months pregnant, but I couldn't get them out and they had to jump from the top bedroom window," she said.
Louth Sinn Fein TD Ruairi O Murchu, who visited the scene yesterday, said the family "were trapped in the room upstairs".
"They had to jump out. One woman is seven or eight months pregnant," he added.
A man and woman are both believed to have broken their ankles when they landed on the ground.
Their four-year-old child is understood to have been handed down from the window upstairs to a member of the public who had rushed to the house to help after hearing screaming.
"It is very lucky we are not talking about fatalities or serious, serious injuries," Mr O Murchu said.
"This is incredibly serious. It is absolutely shocking and it is pure luck we are not looking at coffins."
He also said it was lucky that neighbours had been so vigilant.
One member of the public is understood to have made a number of brave attempts to get up the stairs on hearing a child and a pregnant woman were there.
The person was beaten back by smoke and flames and then went to assist in helping the child to be handed to safety from the back upstairs window.
Two tenders from Dundalk Fire and Rescue Service responded to the call.
Assistant chief fire officer Colm Lambe said they were notified at 3.40am and when the crews arrived, the fire was well established.
"It was well ablaze, the sitting room along with the kitchen. They got the fire contained to that area so it did not spread upstairs," he said.
He also confirmed that two adults had jumped from the top window.
All of the five occupants remained in hospital yesterday and it is understood some of them were in intensive care as they received treatment for smoke inhalation.
Meanwhile, gardai have launched an investigation into the incident, they said.
They appealed for witnesses, saying they wanted in particular "any road users who may have camera footage, including dash-cam, who were travelling in the areas of Clontygara Court and Hoey's Lane between 3am and 4am to make this footage available to gardai".
An incident room has been set up at Dundalk Garda Station, where officers yesterday appealed for anyone who witnessed anything or who has information on the incident to contact them.
They can be contacted at 042 9388 400, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800 666 111, or any garda station.
The scene was preserved for a full technical examination yesterday.
It is understood that local residents heard a loud bang before the fire broke out.
The house was severely damaged in the blaze, with the ground floor practically gutted and the first floor blackened with smoke.
The heat from the fire shattered glass panes on both levels and melted the guttering, which rained molten plastic down to the ground.
The living room and dining room suffered the worst damage, with furniture and doors charred to soot.
Thick black smoke filled the house, rising upwards with the heat and filling the upstairs bedrooms. The ceilings had also collapsed in the rooms in the lower floors.