The cars involved in the fire were brand-new Volkswagen Golf models scheduled for export. Six double-decker train cars were also damaged.
“Our fire investigators were at the scene,” police stated a few hours after the fire, though they said the cause of the fire was initially unclear. “We now assume it's arson.”
The fire broke out at the Hamburg-Süd port railway on Veddeler Damm after two wagons on parallel tracks caught on fire. Initial findings suggest that the person or persons involved intentionally set fire to a car in one of the transport trains.
A signal box worker noticed heavy smoke at 3:46 a.m. early on Saturday and alerted the fire department, which sent 69 firefighters to the scene.
“We fought the fire with water and foam,” a spokesman for the squad said, adding that firefighters were able to prevent the flames from spreading to another – albeit empty – rail car. “The whole operation lasted about three-and-a-half hours.”
Between 80 and 100 automobiles have been set on fire in similar incidents that have occurred around the city this year. To bring the situation under control, police have dispatched a group of 100 additional plainclothes police officers to conduct nightly patrols.
But the latest incident was described as a “completely atypical case.”