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Arson not suspected as cars are destroyed in the early hours.

CARS at a factory were destroyed in a fire after a blaze broke out in a storage compound at Nissan on Washington Road, Sunderland, in the early hours of Sunday morning.

Eleven cars in the compound were engulfed by the flames and completely destroyed.

A further eight cars were damaged in the fire, which happened shortly before 4am.

The brand-new Micras and Qashqais were being stored in the secure compound at the factory, ready to be shipped out to customers.

Fire crews were called to the site after a security guard spotted the flames, and swiftly brought the fire under control.

No one was hurt.

Officers are now investigating the cause of the fire, but suspect a fault in one of the cars. A Nissan employee said the blaze was extremely unusual.

"I used to be in the fire service, and I have never seen a car catch fire when it's not running," said the worker, who asked not to be named.

But he said it did not appear to be an arson attack.

"Normally if the engine was off, it would only set alight if it was torched - but we're fairly certain it wasn't arson," he explained.

"We've now narrowed it down to one of three cars, but a lot of the evidence has been destroyed by the fire.

It will take a while to piece together what happened." He added: "It's an expensive waste, but at least the factory wasn't threatened. The fire was brought under control quickly once it was spotted."
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Publication:The Journal (Newcastle, England)
Date:May 18, 2009
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