A fire blazed in a parking garage next to the Echo Arena in Liverpool, England, on Dec. 31 and forced the Liverpool International Horse Show to cancel its scheduled events for the day.
BBC News estimated that 1,400 cars were destroyed in the blaze, but no humans or animals were seriously harmed. Police suspect the incident started with an accidental fire in one car, which then spread.
Horses were stabled on the ground level and were evacuated to stabling outside or to the arena itself until the fire was extinguished. U.S. show jumper Andy Kocher was waiting for the Liverpool International Grand Prix when his barn staff informed him of the fire and suggested he come back.
“We got all the horses out, but we didn’t really know what was going on,” Kocher said. “We were moved around a bunch, from a hotel, to around the block, and then when we got back they’d moved a bunch of horses into trailers, just in case, but we realized we didn’t know where ours were. Somebody needed the stalls, but nobody told us or asked.
“Eventually we got them all, but we weren’t allowed back into the stabling area, so we didn’t have equipment, passports, credit cards, anything,” Kocher continued. “We were lucky enough to have enough gas and money to get back to a friend’s house in London. We waited there until someone else at the show was able to get back, grab our stuff, and drop it at another farm, where we finally got it back. So it was all fine in the end, but it’s been a wild few days.”
Nina Barbour, president of the Liverpool International Horse Show, released a statement on the event’s website.
“I would like to express my immense thanks and gratitude to the emergency services, the Echo Arena staff, riders, grooms and support staff, the general public and the City of Liverpool following Sunday night’s events,” she wrote. “The understanding of everybody who were preparing to celebrate New Year’s Eve and were left in Liverpool with no transport was nothing short of remarkable, and the offers of help and support from people—they ran into the hundreds—for anyone who needed assistance will never be forgotten. It was with considerable regret that last night’s final session of the show had to be cancelled. We are not going to let go of what we achieved in the first five sessions of the show, and we will be back to do it again next December.”