Arsonists set fire to Pride flags on election day and nearly caused deadly blaze

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Families in Rochester, New York had a narrow escape on Tuesday, after arsonists setting fire to Pride flags nearly caused a bigger blaze.

As America went to the polls to elect Donald Trump, two separate houses flying rainbow flags in the same Rochester neighbourhood were targeted by thugs in a suspected hate crime attack.

The arsonists set fire to the flag flying outside the house of gay activist Greg Ventura, and a second flag outside a house several roads away.

Speaking to WXXI, Mr Ventura revealed he had a narrow escape, as the flames from the burning flag nearly caused a bigger blaze.

He said: “The firemen pointed out how quickly my vinyl siding could have gone up in flames and the house could have caught fire much easily than I even knew.”

Though he was unsure about the motives of the incident, he noted the timing, adding: “There were heated temperaments due to the election happening so I did make the tie later on that possibly the election was the reason.

“I thought I lived in a very accepting area of Rochester and I just couldn’t believe that this happened.”

“[Police] started to use the word ‘hate crime’ as they investigated, which really put the emotional twist on the whole act for me… from there, they also sent out the fire department to possibly investigate this as arson as well.”

Scott Fearing of the Gay Alliance LGBTQ Resource Center, told TWC that fear was running high in the local community in the wake of the incidents and the election.

He said: “What we’ve been hearing from folks is that they were concerned about issues of safety, issues of inclusion, fear for their kids in school, things like that because this election had so much vitriol, open racism, open homophobia, name-calling, bullying.

“Our main message right now, we are encouraging people to remember the concept of community; that as a community, we are large in number, we’re strong, and we’re there to help each other.”

Pro-Trump internet troll Milo Yiannopoulos, who has a large and suggestible following online, burnt a rainbow flag in a video released just last week.