The home of a pensioner was targeted in an arson attack in the Sunnylands estate in Carrick on Friday afternoon.
A mattress was placed against the house in Fergus Court and set alight just feet away from the gas meter.
Police say that the incident could have resulted in a fatality if a family member had not arrived at the property.
A spokesperson for PSNI Carrickfergus said: “The presence of someone inside the house or in adjoining properties would make it arson endangering life.
“Had that resident been unable to get out of the house and the unthinkable happened, that’s manslaughter.
“It is only for the sheer coincidence of family members calling in with the resident shortly after that we are not investigating a fatal house fire.”
A family friend said: “This woman is 73 years of age and cannot walk too far. Only for her daughter popping in and son ten minutes later, this could have been fatal.
“Cannot believe there are human beings out there that could carry our such a hateful act. The lights were on in her wee home, so it would have been obvious that there were people in the house.”
The PSNi has appealed for witnesses to come forward.
The spokeperson continued: “Did you see anyone in that area, or running from that area? Have you heard any chatter about this or maybe you know who was involved but you’re not sure what to do?
“Well, think about if this was your mummy or granny, what would you want someone with information to do then?
“Please come forward, call us on 101 or contact Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111. Quote reference 892 02/11/18.”
East Antrim DUP MLA David Hilditch said: “This is absolutely disgraceful behaviour, putting people’s lives in danger. Once again I am calling for an end to anti-social behaviour in this area of lower Sunnylands.”
Ulster Unionist MLA John Stewart stated: “This elderly lady can hardly walk and had the fire spread quicker could have been seriously hurt or worse.
“I have made contact with the PSNI to find out what is being done to catch those responsible. This mindless thuggery can not be allowed to continue.”