A FIRE has destroyed hundreds of vehicles in a multi-storey car park at Liverpool Echo Arena.

Cars were heard exploding 'every few seconds' as firefighters battled to bring the flames under control.

The car park is next to the Echo Arena, which was hosting an international horse show on New Year's Eve.

The animals were evacuated as a result of the fire, and the evening show was cancelled.

Crews from Bolton Central, which has specialist vehicles, were called to the incident at around 10pm on New Year's Eve after the blaze broke out in an old Land Rover.

A total of nine firefighters from Bolton remain at the scene, with a high volume pump.

The engine releases around 7,000 litres of water per minute.

Around 1,400 vehicles were thought to be in the car park at the time the blaze took hold.

Mersey Fire crews rescued two dogs from a vehicle in the car park during the response.

Crews were first called at 4.42pm on New Year's Eve and were on the scene eight minutes later.

Merseyside Police said initial investigations indicated an 'accidental fire within a vehicle caused other cars to ignite'.

"We believe that all vehicles parked in the car park have been destroyed and advise owners to contact their insurance companies," the force said.

There have been no serious injuries, according to police.

Liverpool's mayor Joe Anderson said the blaze started in a Land Rover on the third level of the car park.

Residents in nearby apartments were evacuated due to the large quantity of smoke.

A spokeswoman for the Echo Arena said: "We regret to announce that the Liverpool International Horse Show has been cancelled due to a serious fire in the multi-storey car park on site.

"All people and horses are safe and secure."

Around 4,000 people were expected to attend the Sunday evening's show, which marked the end of the four-day event.