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Sprinkler system 'could have stopped Liverpool car park inferno'

Hundreds of cars were destroyed after fire tore through the1,600-capacity car park. Picture by Sue Wright/Frequency Media/PA Wire

SPRINKLERS could have stopped a 1,000C inferno that incinerated around 1,600 vehicles in a Liverpool car park, a chief fire officer said.

Dan Stephens, of Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service (MFRS), said an automatic water trigger would have given crews a "much better" chance of stopping the fire, which engulfed seven floors of the multi-storey car park at the Echo Arena.

The blaze on the city's waterfront started when a Land Rover burst into flames.

Motorists abandoned their cars in a massive evacuation which saw 4,000 people taken to safety and the final event of the Liverpool International Horse Show cancelled at the arena.

Residents in nearby apartments and tourists staying in hotels were also forced to leave while 12 fire engines and aerial ladders were brought in to battle the blaze at around 4.42pm on New Year's Eve.

The chief fire officer said the temperature of the fire was between 800C and 1,000C, and although crews attended within eight minutes of the alarm, the flames spread so quickly they were not able to control the blaze.

"One thing is for certain - had the building been sprinklered there is every chance that would have suppressed the fire sufficiently then for us to be able to go in and extinguish the fire without it spreading in the way that it did," he said.

"I believe a sprinkler system would certainly have suppressed the fire, it would definitely have limited the spread and given us a much better opportunity to put the fire out before it spread to the extent it did.

"Given the intensity of the fire, given some of the fire incidents we've seen over the past 12 months, I think the fact that no-one was injured here and there's been no fatalities... I think that's a very good outcome indeed."

Fire crews were able to protect apartments on two sides of the car park, the hotels and the Arena building, as well as assisting with the evacuation of the horses.

Two dogs were also rescued from cars on the second floor, and this morning four more dogs were rescued from cars on the seventh floor.

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