The New Year's Eve fire that destroyed as many as 1,400 cars in a multi-storey car park next to Liverpool's Echo Arena could end up costing insurers £2m at the very least, City A.M. understands.
Firefighters were called to the car park at 4:42pm yesterday afternoon, but were still battling to contain the blaze, which had spread quickly thanks to strong winds, late this morning. At one point 21 fire engines were attending the scene.
The car park has a capacity of 1,600 cars, and 1,400 vehicles were estimated to be parked at the time of the blaze, which is believed to be accidental. All of them are thought to have been destroyed.
No one has been seriously injured. Horses, which were on the first floor when the fire broke out, were moved into the arena and firefighters rescued two dogs. The International Horse Show, which was scheduled to take place at the Arena, was cancelled.
Although it is too early for official estimates, one industry insider told City A.M. the cost of paying out for vehicles and possessions alone would be "millions - more than £2m". The final figure could end up being "significantly more", however.
The insider said this was "a noteworthy event... but well within the scale of what insurers can cope with".
A spokeswoman for the Association of British Insurers said: “Insurers’ emergency claim lines operate 365 days a year so anyone who has been affected by this fire in Liverpool should pick up the phone to their insurer. Insurance is there to cover the costs of just this type of incident, and in 2016 motor insurers paid out more than £33m every single day."
A spokeswoman for the British Insurance Brokers' Association agreed it would be a "significant" claim, but was unable to provide an estimate.
Liverpool's mayor Joe Anderson said the fire appeared to start in a Land Rover on the third storey. He went on to claim that the fire "was containable [or] it would have been if we had enough appliances responding."
Arena Car Park fire 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. Will give more news about tonight ASAP.— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) December 31, 2017
Car Park fire was reported to me at 4.45pm and I was told it was containable,it would have been if we had enough appliances responding,Chief Fire officer confirmed my view that 2 years ago we would have had 8 fire engines from 4 stations responding instead of 2 #cutscost— Joe Anderson (@mayor_anderson) January 1, 2018
Merseyside Police, Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service and Liverpool City Council have also issued a joint statement urging anyone with a vehicle affected by the fire not to ring emergency services "but to contact your insurance company quoting incident number 650 of 31 December".
They added: "Thank you for your patience and cooperation while emergency services continue to deal with this incident.
"A cordon remains in place around the car park and people are asked to avoid the immediate location and not to attend to make any enquiries about vehicles. All roads in the area are now open."