Firefighters from Brighton and Hove saved a dog from the fumes while tackling the blaze in a car park behind Churchill Square shopping centre.
The fire broke out at lunchtime and led to thousands of people being evacuated from the shopping centre.
The fire service said: “East Sussex Fire and Rescue Service was called at 12.23pm on (Saturday) 4 April to reports of a car fire at a car park for Churchill Square shopping centre in Brighton.
“Four fire appliances – two from Hove and two from Preston Circus – were sent to the scene along with two officers.
“The fire spread to three cars.
“The shopping centre was evacuated as smoke had started to set off alarms in shops.
“Crews used six breathing apparatus and two main jets to put out the fire.
“The area was left smokelogged.
“There are no reports of injuries although a dog was rescued from a car in the car park.
“As of 1.42pm, a phased return of staff and members of the public to the shopping centre was under way.
“A fire investigation will be carried out to establish the cause of the fire.”
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