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M6 in Warwickshire still partly closed by tanker fire

  • 12-12-2012

Part of the M6 in Warwickshire remains closed more than 10 hours after a chemical tanker fire.

Dozens of motorists had to leave their cars after the tanker fire between junctions 3 and 3A, near Bedworth.

The Highways Agency said the southbound carriageway had reopened but the northbound stretch was still closed.

A 1,000m exclusion zone put in place while the chemicals were removed has been lifted and motorists stranded by the incident have left the scene.

The motorway was handed back to the Highways Agency by the emergency services earlier, a spokeswoman said.

Resurface road

The removal of the fire-hit lorry was taking place on the northbound carriageway, which would have to be assessed for damage and resurfaced if needed.

"We hope to get at least one lane of it reopen this evening," she said.

Hundreds of people were stranded after the motorway was shut at about 09:15 GMT and many motorists were caught up in tailbacks reaching about three miles (5km).

Ten people, including eight firefighters, were taken to hospital but have since been released.

They were treated for breathing difficulties by ambulance crews before being taken to hospital, the ambulance service said.

Warwickshire Police said a tyre on the tanker had blown out and then caught fire on the northbound carriageway.

Dozens of motorists and passengers had to abandon vehicles and rested at Corley Services.

'No risk'

Many of the stranded vehicles were freed after highways staff removed metal barriers on the central reservation allowing vehicles to turn around.

The tanker had been carrying a "mix of chemicals", the Health Protection Agency said.

The priority had been to contain and remove the chemicals and "ensure that there are no hazards to public health at the scene", according to the Strategic Co-ordinating Group, led by the county's fire service.

"The group is able to reiterate its assurances to the public that no risk is posed. Any smouldering from the scene is a result of the burning paper and is not connected to chemicals," a spokesman said.

Coventry City Council ran the rest centre at Corley Services.

Simon Brake from the council said earlier they were making sure people were safe and buses were taking them along the motorway.

"We've got just over 100 people here - we keeping them warm and dry and we're helping them keep in touch with their families and we're keeping them informed about what's going," he said.

The incident was causing severe delays and motorists were advised to find alternative routes and follow diversions.

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Reproduced under licence from BBC News © 2012 BBC

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