A stolen car has been set on fire on the forecourt of a Belfast petrol filling station in what police described as an “unbelievably reckless act.

The blaze at the forecourt on Rosetta Road, in the south east of the city, was reported to police at about 1am on Thursday December 19.

The car was destroyed in the fire and a “considerable amount of damage” caused to the filling station.

Detective Sergeant William Arnott said the arson attack had put nearby homes at risk.

“We are extremely fortunate we are not dealing with a more serious incident this morning following this unbelievably reckless act,” he said.

“It does not bear thinking about what could have happened to families living nearby if this fire had spread to the petrol pumps of this filling station.

“Whoever carried out this irresponsible act did not care who could get hurt.”

Police believe that the car was stolen from the Southland Dale area of east Belfast at 2:50am on Monday December 16.

They have appealed for information about the attack and for sightings of a white Ford Fiesta “being driven in a suspicious manner” between Monday December 16 and the time of the fire.