Firefighters have battled for eight hours to contain a fire at Sytner Group’s landmark Guy Salmon Jaguar Land Rover (JLR) Stockport dealership which triggered explosions and emitted billowing smoke overnight.
Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service (GMFRS) told AM that around 30 vehicles had been damaged in the blaze which fire fighters were called to in the early hours of this morning (August 6).
While an investigation is now underway to determine the cause of the blaze, Sytner Group divisional managing director, Steve Gough, said "it is looking likely that an arson attack is the cause" in a statement issued to AM.
At the height of the blaze – at around 1.30am – seven fire engines from GMFRS attended the scene.
AM understands that the main showroom had not been affected by the fire, which had started in a valet bay.
The Manchester Evening News reported that explosions could be heard as the fire ripped through facility.
Sytner's landmark JLR dealership is located within sight of the busy M60 dual carriageway and was the first dealership to fully realise JLR’s single-roof Arch concept corporate identity back in December 2014.
Commenting in the incident in a statement issued to AM, Gough said: "We can confirm that a fire broke out in the early hours of Thursday 6th August in the rear compound of our dealership.
"We would firstly like to thank the emergency services and in particular the Fire Service for their efficient response and preventing the fire spreading any further which has resulted in only superficial damage to the building.
"We can also confirm that no injuries have been reported as a result of the fire."
Gough added: "The dealership is currently physically closed whilst the emergency services continue their investigations, albeit it is looking likely that an arson attack is the cause.
"Until we understand the assessment of the emergency services and carry out our own review of the damage, we are unable to comment any further.
"In the interim, the dealership remains fully open digitally; via telephone, e-mail and live chat and all service customers are being contacted today by our team.
"We apologise for the inconvenience that this has caused our customers and we anticipate being able to re-open from tomorrow."
This morning the fire service informed local residents to keep their doors and windows closed as they continued to “damp-down” the building.
A tweet by GMFRS said: "Our crews are currently dealing with a fire at an industrial estate on Bailey Road, Stockport.
"Please avoid the area while our crews respond to this incident."
In a statement issued to AM by GMFRS this morning, a spokesperson said: “At 00:24 on 6th August 2020 six fire engines, an aerial ladder platform and a hose laying lorry from Greater Manchester Fire and Rescue Service attended a commercial building fire on Bailey Road, Stockport.
"This was a fire involving approximately 30 vehicles and a building consisting of fifty metres by twenty metres. Fire crews were in attendance for approximately eight hours.
“We will be conducting a Fire Investigation and are working with Greater Manchester Police to try and determine how the fire started.”
In September last year fourteen fire engines battled a fire at Lookers Group's Renault car dealership in Stockport.
GMFRS said at the time that the blaze had started in the facility's parts and workshop area.