A fire has destroyed all the vehicles in a 1,600-capacity multi-storey car park in Liverpool, police have said.
Firefighters wearing breathing apparatus and 21 fire engines arrived at the scene on King‘s Dock to battle the blaze, which broke out between 4 and 5pm on Sunday.
Police said they believed an accidental fire in one car had spread rapidly to other vehicles. Nearby apartments were evacuated because of thick smoke in the area.
A horse show scheduled to take place the arena next to the car park was cancelled following the fire and nearby racecourse Aintree opened up 20 stables to look after animals moved from scene.
Former Liverpool footballer questions why Echo Arena car park fire was able to spread
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said everyone was safe and no animals involved in the nearby show had been hurt.
Video posted to social media showed flames raging on an upper floor of the car park and an outside staircase.
This is the scene from the side of the car park as the fire rages on and spreads to more floors
— Jenny Kirkham ()
Twitter user Colin Creed said in a post: “Trapped in the Echo Arena. Big fire in the car park, and the horses have been brought in to the now smoky arena. Hopefully get home by midnight!”
Trapped in the Echo Arena. Big fire in the car park, and the horses have been brought in to the now smoky arena. Hopefully get home by midnight!
— Colin Creed ()
Olly Harrison, an eyewitness, told news he saw white smoke followed by black smoke and heard a series of “loud bangs”. He speculated the noises were the sounds of tyres and fuel tanks exploding.
He tweeted: “Have been told everyone safe and no animals hurt. Seems a Land Rover went on fire on the 3rd level, horses on 1st .The horses have been evacuated to Arena.”
Police advised members of the public to stay away from the area and traffic restrictions were put in place.
An area spokesperson said: “We regret to announce that the Liverpool International Horse Show has been cancelled tonight due to a serious fire in the multi-storey car park on site.
“All people and horses are safe and secure. We are working alongside the emergency services to ensure the fire is brought under control and to make the site safe as quickly as possible.”
Around 4,000 people were expected for Sunday evening’s show, but at least two or three levels of the car park appeared well alight, with periodic mini-explosions and flames shooting up the outside of the building.
Mr Anderson later tweeted: “Anyone whose car was in the arena car park should go to the Galeria in the Exhibition centre. Council and arena staff will help with getting home or emergency accommodation.
“Big praise for our fire service who are working really hard at the car park.”
Additional reporting by PA