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'Terrifying' ordeal of teenage girls trapped in blazing Co Antrim barn after youths set fire to building

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Emergency services at the scene of the incident on Monday

Emergency services at the scene of the incident on Monday

Emergency services at the scene of the incident on Monday

Four teenage girls have been rescued after being trapped inside a barn which was set alight by youths in Dunmurry.

The 13-year-old girls gained access to the disused building in the Mount Eagles Avenue area shortly after 8.15pm on Monday.

While inside, several male youths set blocks of polystyrene on fire and threw them into the barn, along with wood and stones, trapping the girls inside.

One of the girls contacted the Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service, who rushed to the scene along with an ambulance crew 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.

"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," she added.

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 while a third was wearing a grey tracksuit with the hood covering his face.

SDLP councillor Brian Heading urged those responsible to accept it was a foolish incident and hand themselves in to 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 and terrible consequences."

Sinn Fein councillor Daniel Baker met with the site owner yesterday.

"The barn in Mount Eagles has now been secured. More fencing will be erected to secure the site and there will be on-site security. I will speak with the PSNI about extra patrols for sites and wastelands in our community," he said.

"We are very lucky no one was seriously hurt. This is a lesson for us all and as a community we will work together to keep our community safe.

"I would also appeal for anyone with any information to come forward to the PSNI."

Alliance West Belfast representative Donnamarie Higgins added: "I am in utter shock over this incident and find it hard to believe anyone, 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."

Police have urged anyone with information to contact them on 101, quoting reference number 1819 13/07/20. Information can also be provided anonymously to Crimestoppers on 0800 555 111.

Belfast Telegraph