Four teenage girls were trapped inside a burning barn during an incident in Dunmurry on Monday, police have said.
It was reported shortly after 8.15pm that four 13-year-old girls gained access to a disused barn in the Mount Eagles Avenue area.
When they were inside, police said several male youths set blocks of polystyrene on fire and threw them into the barn, as well as wood and stones, which trapped the girls inside.
One of the girls contacted the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service who arrived on the scene and rescued the teenagers.
Detective Sergeant Hollie McCartan said: “Thankfully there were no reports of any serious injuries and only minor damage was caused to the barn. One of the males involved was described as having blonde hair which was shaved at the sides and wearing a black top and navy bottoms. Another was described as wearing a green and white coloured top, with a third described as wearing a grey tracksuit with the hood covering his face.
“It is extremely fortunate that we are not dealing with more tragic circumstances following this incident. This was a terrifying ordeal for the girls trapped inside and if they had not managed to contact the authorities, the consequences could have been devastating. The persons responsible showed a complete disregard for the safety and well-being of those inside."
SDLP Councillor Brian Heading has urged those responsible to hand themselves over to the police.
The Collin representative added: “However innocent they may thought this was in terms of just messing about and teasing a few girls, it could have ended with some very serious consequences.
“The site should have been secured and the developer concerned needs to take responsibility for allowing access.”
Alliance representative Donnamarie Higgins said: “I am in utter shock over this incident and find it hard to believe someone, much less young people, could do something which could have easily led to serious tragedy.
“This can only be seen as an attempt to at least injure these girls, if not more They are extremely lucky to have escaped with no serious injuries. My thoughts are with them after what must have been a completely distressing time.
“I urge anyone who knows the young males involved or who has any information whatsoever on this incident to contact police with it immediately.”
Police have urged anyone with any information regarding the incident to contact them on 101, quoting reference number 1819 13/07/20.
A report can also be submitted online here. Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.