A house where a family from the Travelling community was living in Newry was set alight yesterday in an arson attack.
A burning object was forced through the letterbox of a house at Emmet Place in the city in the early hours of Sunday morning.
Neighbours described hearing a noise from the rear of the house at around 3am before silence and then the fire alarm going off.
No-one was in the house at the time but serious damage was caused to the hall area.
It is understood that a Traveller family had been living in the Housing Association home for around five months.
Newry Sinn Fein councillor Charlie Casey, who lives close by, said neighbours and people living in the area were shocked by the attack and feared that the blaze could have spread along the terrace to other homes where there were young children living.
Mr Casey paid tribute to the quick work of the Fire and Rescue Service.
“Neighbours ran out to the house when they heard the fire alarm going off and saw the hall ablaze,” he said.
“They rang the Fire Service who were on the scene in minutes and put it out. They had to knock down the front door completely to get in The house was in a terrace and a lot of other homes could have been destroyed and people killed if it had not been seen.
“Whoever was responsible for this attack cared little for the lives of the people in this area.
“Anyone with any information which could bring these people to justice should come forward immediately.”
Police have called on anyone who may have witnessed the attack to contact them.
Meanwhile, in Carryduff, a 14-year-old boy had a lucky escape after his home caught fire in an oil tank blaze.
Two families have lost everything just a week before Christmas after two homes were destroyed after domestic oil tanks caught fire around 11pm on Friday.
The boy was sleeping in the house when the fire started but was rescued by neighbours.
No-one was hurt, but the families have lost almost everything.
The tanks at the back of the detached bungalows at Brackenwood Crescent, Carryduff, were burning for more than five hours.
It took a team of 40 firefighters to bring the blaze under control.
Police said the cause of the fire was not being treated as suspicious.
And in Londonderry, police are continuing to question three people in connection with an attack on a house in the Waterside area early on Friday morning.
It has been reported that a number of masked men attacked the house and car with iron bars before being pursued by police.
The windows of a house at Hollymount Park and a car parked outside were smashed at about 4am.
A 26-year-old man was injured when dissident republicans fired at the same house in August.