Gardaí are investigating a suspected arson attack on refuse bins which spread to a famous family business in Limerick city this morning and caused substantial damage to the premises.
BakeHouse 22 on Nicholas Street, which trades as a convenience store, restaurant, bakery, and a catering service, sustained external damage and internal smoke damage.
Gardaí believe the fire spread to the property after refuse bins on the street were maliciously set on fire.
Run by husband and wife team Mike and Sheelagh Treacy, the business has been in operation for the past 65 years, and previously featured on the RTÉ television programme ‘At Your Service’.
During the show it transformed from a convenience store to include a restaurant, bakery, catering service, and off-licence, under the guidance of presenters and Irish hotelier siblings Francis and John Brennan.
“Gardaí and emergency services attended a criminal damage incident where a number of wheelie bins were set alight on Nicholas Street, Limerick on the 11th May 2022 at 3.30am, no injuries have been reported at this time, and investigations are ongoing,” said a Garda spokesman.
Mike Treacy said he was shocked when he received a phone call in the early hours of this morning informing him that his premises was “ablaze”.
“I got a call after 3am and made my way to the business, Nicholas Street was closed down, there were crews from Limerick fire brigade and gardaí in attendance, and we weren't allowed in at that stage,” he said.
“There was a substantial amount of damage, there were wheelie bins that took alight up against our property and if the fire crews had not been so quick responding, there would have been substantially more damage, that’s for sure.”
A number of people occupying apartments above and behind the business were not injured.
Gardaí are examining footage from security cameras on the street for any suspicious activity around the time of the fire.
Mr Treacy said: “We are open 65 years, my parents had it and operated it for about 40 years and I’ve been running it for the last 25 years.”
Despite it all, he was busy honouring bakery orders to other businesses in the city, and he praised Limerick firefighters and gardaí for attending the scene, as well as neighbouring business who offered to assist him in honouring his catering orders in the afternoon.
“We are workers, we are fighters, and we will fight on again, and the amount of people that are texting me and offering support has been so nice and reassuring,” Mr Treacy said.
“The fire is contained in the shop section so we will be able to fulfil special orders for birthday cakes and we also have outside catering orders for today but they will be honoured as well. The restaurant wasn’t damaged but you can still smell the smoke in there, so we will have to get a cleaning crew in,” he added.
He said he expects a bill of thousands of euro to repair the damage and clean the entire premises: “Our windows have to be replaced, the glass is gone, the frame is burnt, the electrics are gone, a roll of shutters are destroyed, and an ice cream fridge is gone, that's what we know for now.”
Preparing to meet food orders for the day ahead, he concluded: “That’s what we do, when the city is closed we are still open, the only day we don't open is Christmas Day, that’s just the way we do things, that’s the way we roll.”