SEVEN children, their pregnant mother and their father had a lucky escape after arsonists pushed lit paper through their letterbox while they were sleeping.

The family have been left terrified by the ordeal and are fearful they may be targeted again.

Police are treating the incident as arson with intent to endanger life, and it happened 24 hours after four tyres were slashed on the family’s people carrier by a man with a knife.

Firefighters from Bury were called to St Andrews Road, Radcliffe, at 1.30am on Wednesday.

The blaze was out when they arrived.

Nicholas Robinson and his wife, Leah, who is seven-and-a-half months pregnant, were in the front room when they were alerted by smoke alarms going off.

Their seven children, aged between two and 15, were asleep upstairs and would have been trapped if the fire had taken hold.

The family also have three dogs and seven puppies, who were also in the house.

Mr Robinson, aged 38, said he thought the family were being deliberately targeted, but believes it is a case of mistaken identity.

“I was watching TV and the smoke alarms went off. Leah woke up and we opened the door and there was paper smouldering in front of the front door.

“It had been lit and pushed through,” he said.

At 1.30am on Tuesday, Mr Robinson, who suffers from osteoarthritis, went outside when he saw a man by his car. He says the man, aged in his 20s or 30s, waved a knife at him before running off. Mr Robinson is certain it is the same man he saw near the semi-detached house after the fire.

He said: “It makes me feel sick thinking about what could have happened with the children in the house.”

Mr Robinson says that over the past year the family’s car has been targeted a number of times, with slashed tyres, scratches and a smashed window.

Mrs Robinson, aged 32, added: “I am frightened. It could have been something worse, anything could have happened. I am still in shock.”

Steve Wilcock, Bury fire watch manager, said the family were very lucky and advised homeowners to make sure their escape routes were clear of anything that could catch fire and spread.

Firefighters are warning people to be vigilant in the run up to Bonfire Night.

Police are investigating.