Lorry inferno causes havoc on motorway

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A lorry carrying 10 tonnes of tyres caught fire on the M6.

Guardian reader Clive Mitchell, who lives at nearby Hampson Cottages, took these dramatic photos at the scene after being alerted to the incident by the sound of the trailer tyres exploding.

The blaze broke out on the northbound carriageway between Lancaster Services and Junction 33 at around 8.45pm on Monday.

Six fire engines were called to the incident.

The motorway was closed in both directions as firefighters tackled the incident,

Firefighters, including six officers wearing breathing apparatus, worked on the hard shoulder for more than four hours to try to put out the flames.

Watch manager John Timperley said: “We believe, although it is still under investigation, that on one of the axles of the trailer, the brake has been binding on.

“The driver was flagged down by a passing vehicle and as soon as he pulled over onto the hard shoulder the fire took hold of his articulated container of new tyres.

“The driver disconnected his tractor unit and pulled that further up the motorway out of the smoke plume and away from the heat so it was safe and he was fine.

“We had the northbound and southbound carriageways closed for several hours due to smoke and protection of firefighters.”

The crews used 200 litres of foam and three jets to try to extinguish the fire, which created a large smoke cloud that drifted across the motorway.

Mr Timperley said: “It was complicated because we had to protect the environment and the water run-off drains.

“We had to put controls in place so we knew where the run-off foam was going and we started re-circulating it back onto the fire.

“When tyres or any type of rubber gets involved in a fire it can take a while and quite a lot of water or foam to get in under control, which we did at around 1am.”

The southbound carriageway was reopened at around 11.30pm and two lanes of the northbound carriageway at around 12.30am.

The first lane of the northbound carriageway remained closed until Tuesday morning.

Mr Timperley added: “There was a significant amount of traffic locked in on the northbound carriageway during the incident.

“Police were concerned about getting people home so at one point we did open the northbound lanes two and three to let the vehicles out.”

No people were reported injured in the incident.