WATCH: Arson suspected in Portlaoise house fire

A vacant house in Esker Hills estate in Portlaoise is now believed to have been deliberately set on fire.

Laois Fire Service has confirmed to the Leinster Express that the fire which today gutted a large vacant house in Esker Hills, is suspected to be a case of arson.

"The house is gutted. We suspect arson. The roof is now being knocked for safety in case it falls out on the ground," Sub Officer John Ging said at the scene.

Crews from Portlaoise and Stradbally are expected to remain working on the scene until well after 6pm.

A family who live across from the vacant house say it is owned by Laois County Council, was always empty and attracted anti social behaviour many times in the past.

"I saw a lot of  flames coming out, the whole sky was covered in smoke," said Sabine Shahzad.

Her husband Babar said they had been on to the council many times over leaving the house vacant.

"We have been on to the council many times to do something because kids get in there, they smoke, many times they have smashed the windows. They didn't do anything. Nobody has lived there since this estate was developed," he said.

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