High-profile Union flag demonstrator Willie Frazer has vowed he will not be intimidated by those responsible for an overnight arson attack on his home.
The prominent victims campaigner said he could have died if police had not discovered his car ablaze outside his house in Markethill, Co Armagh, at around 1.15am.
Mr Frazer said the fire had already spread to the corner of his home when officers on a routine patrol noticed the rising smoke. He said a clock on an inside wall had melted amid the heat.
He blamed “criminal elements within the republican movement” for the attack, claiming they were trying to silence his efforts to expose fraud in south Armagh.
“I have to praise the police,” he said.
“If it hadn’t been for the police last night I don’t know what would have happened. I may not be here now. The car was well ablaze and the house had already caught fire and I was still asleep in my bed.”
Mr Frazer, 52, said it was fortunate that his wife and 19-year-old son were not at home at the time of the attack.
“I get anything up to a dozen threats a day, on the phone, but it is different when they come to your home,” he said.
“These people knew what they were doing and they were clearly trying to send me a message.
“They were throwing petrol bombs at my house 40 years ago when I was ten or eleven. It did not deter my father then and it won’t deter me now.”
He added: “I will not be intimidated by these scum.”
Mr Frazer is an outspoken member of the Ulster People’s Forum – a group established to voice loyalist anger at Belfast City Council’s decision in December to limit the number of days the flag flies over City Hall.
Police said the burning car was very close to the house.
Neighbours were also alerted to the blaze and a van had to be moved away from the burning car.
Officers used hand-held extinguishers and a garden hose to dampen the fire and prevent it from spreading until firefighters arrived.
The car was completely destroyed but no-one was injured.
A PSNI spokesman said: “This was a very dangerous fire and due to the quick-thinking actions of officers out on patrol no-one was hurt.
“The consequences if we had not caught this fire in time, do not bear thinking about.
“We have launched an investigation and have conducted house to house inquiries.
“We are appealing to any member of the public who has information in relation to the fire to contact us in Armagh on 0845 600 8000.”
The officer said information could also be provided anonymously through the independent Crimestoppers charity on 0800 555 111.