GARDAÍ appealed for witnesses as they investigated two “suspected arson” attacks that destroyed cars as well as a family-run auto repair business, which has traded on the north side of Limerick city for at least half a century.
Slater’s Crash Repairs, situated at Old Thomondgate, was completely destroyed by one of the suspected arsons this morning.
It’s believed up to eight cars inside the premises were also destroyed in the blaze.
Gardai sealed off the premises and surrounding area and a spokesman said their investigation would be led by the results of a forensic examination.
Appealing for witnesses, a Garda spokesman said: “At around 1.30am, Gardaí received a report of a car on fire at Browns Quay. At around 5.30am Gardaí then received a report of a fire at a business close by. A significant amount of damage was caused to the building as a result of the fire.”
“Gardaí and fire services attended both scenes and a technical examination has since been completed. No arrests have been made and the investigation is ongoing.”
“Gardaí are appealing for anyone who was in the Browns Quay area between 1am and 6am, particularly drivers with dash cam footage, to contact Mayorstone Park Garda Station on 061-456980, the Garda Confidential Line on 1800-666-111 or any Garda Station.”
Fire control said Limerick City firefighters returned to the scene again after receiving a further alert of a fire at the garage shortly after 9am.
At the scene this morning, owner, James Slater, could only watch as smoke billowed out of the burnt shell that was his business.
Speaking in front of his charred premises, Mr Slater said: “I’m devastated, I’m so upset, I don’t even know if I’m coming or going.”
“I got a call about 5.30am, and they said the place was (on fire). We are here fifty years easily, my dad Jimmy Slater ran it before me, now it’s just myself and my brother and we have two or three lads here.”
John Costelloe, a Sinn Fein councillor in the area, said: “It’s a very sad occasion here in Old Thomondgate, people are very upset, people are walking around here in bewilderment.”
“I feel for James, he’s the most obliging man, if you were to pull in here in your car he’d do anything for you. He works so hard and his family are so well liked here, helping people in the community.”
“Everyone is shell shocked, His workmanship is first class, the whole of Limerick know James. It’s a really sad time for James, but being the man he is, he will bounce back again.”
“Thankfully no one was hurt, and I know the gardai will carry out a full integration into why this happened.”
Independent councillor Frankie Daly said the incident was “absolutely one of the saddest days for the community in Thomondgate, where James is a very loved and respected businessman”.
“It’s a very sad day for a really decent genuine working man in our community. It’s shocking.”