The evening performance of the Liverpool International Horse Show was cancelled after a huge fire at the multistorey Kings Dock car park destroyed up to 1,400 vehicles on New Year’s Eve.

Merseyside Fire and Rescue Service said the blaze was one of the worst it had ever dealt with, forcing many visitors to spend New Year’s Eve in a temporary shelter.

Police reported that the blaze started with an accidental fire in one car that then spread to other vehicles. Twenty-one fire engines were at the scene during the night tackling the blaze and the fire service said it was guarding against the risk of the building collapsing. All vehicles left in the 1,600-capacity car park were destroyed.

The Liverpool Horse International Horse Show had been running at the arena since December 28, with a capacity of 11,000. Liverpool Mayor Joe Anderson tweeted that everyone was safe and no animals had been hurt. Horses that were on the first floor of the multistorey car park were moved inside the arena and the Aintree International Equestrian Centre offered its stables to those needing accommodation for horses.

Following the cancellation of the New Year’s Eve performance tickets are being refunded for the 7:30pm performance only.

Nina Barbour, president of the Liverpool Horse Show, commented: “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 the events of Sunday night.

“The understanding of everybody who was preparing to celebrate New Years Eve and were left in Liverpool with no transport was nothing short of remarkable, and the offers of help and support from people for anyone who needed assistance will never be forgotten.

“My thoughts are also with those who have lost their vehicles and possessions as a result of the fire. All people and horses are safe and secure and I thank spectators, riders and support teams for their understanding and co-operation during what was a difficult situation. 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.”

Bob Prattey, chief executive of The ACC Liverpool Group, added: “We can confirm that our future events will be able to proceed as planned following the serious fire which was contained in the Liverpool Waterfront car park on New Year’s Eve.We will continue to communicate with all our clients who are organising forthcoming conferences, exhibitions and entertainment events as well as customers and delegates. We ask for everyone’s patience and understanding while we work through these plans.

“The Liverpool Waterfront car park is closed until further notice and so as part of our contingency plans we are looking at alternative parking arrangements for forthcoming events. We ask for everyone’s patience and understanding while we work through these plans.”