More than 1,000 vehicles incinerated in a New Year’s Eve inferno on Liverpool’s waterfront are being removed as demolition of the car park begins.
The 1,000-centigrade blaze at the multi-storey car park in the final hours of 2017 destroyed most of the 1,200 vehicles inside and the building will be demolished once all the cars have been removed.
The blackened and smoke-logged eyesore has been left standing next to the city’s conference centre and arena until agreements were reached between the council, motorists and insurers over claims and to plan the demolition safely as the building was so severely damaged.
Around 1,000 of the cars were completely burnt out leaving insurers with an estimated £20 million bill.
The fire broke out at around 4.30pm on New Year’s Eve, with thousands of tourists visiting Liverpool for the New Year festivities left stranded.
Around 4,000 people were also evacuated as the final event of the Liverpool International Horse Show was abandoned at the nearby Echo Arena.
Residents living in nearby apartments were also forced to leave as 21 fire engines battled the huge blaze. No one was seriously injured and a number of horses and dogs were rescued.
The blaze is believed to have stared with a fire in a Land Rover car and fire chiefs said if the council-run car park had been fitted with a sprinkler system the blaze might have been stopped.
A replacement car park to be built nearby will have a sprinkler system.
Most of the seven-storey building will be demolished by Christmas.
It follows an agreement with insurance companies and liaison with the Association of British Insurers (ABI) including over the process and the procedure for the removal of the vehicles not burnt out.
These vehicles will be taken to a secure compound and the relevant insurance companies will be liaising with the owners regarding the removal of any belongings from these vehicles.
Many of these vehicles will have suffered water, heat and smoke damage during the blaze.
No vehicles could be removed prior to the demolition process due to safety concerns regarding the fragile nature of the building, Liverpool City Council said.
Mayor of Liverpool Joe Anderson said: “Establishing a series of plans and procedures to dismantle the existing car park has been a hugely complex and detailed piece of work which has prioritised the safety of people.
“We have been in a constant dialogue with insurers and have been carrying out a robust set of enabling works that will ensure we can minimise disruption to the site during the demolition.
“An incredible amount of hard work has gone in to coming up with a temporary facility to enable ACC Liverpool to continue functioning as normal but also designing and submitting plans for a new car park.
“We must not forget that it has been a traumatic process for those whose cars were inside and have had to go through the process of negotiating an insurance claim.”
Once demolished the car park site will be levelled and made safe before being incorporated into a wider plan for the Kings Dock area.
Planning permission for a new, nine-floor car park for 1,650 vehicles at Monarch’s Quay was recently granted.
The new car park will be fitted with CCTV, electric vehicle charging points, and a sprinkler system.