Major M6 delays as lorry fire sees tin cans explode over motorway

Motorists have been facing major delays on the M6 today after a lorry caught fire in Staffordshire.

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Tins can be seen next to the burning lorry on the M6. Photo: Highways England

Drivers heading north from the Midlands battled congestion and delays of up to 90 minutes all morning and into the early afternoon after the blaze began at around 5.30am.

The charred trailer and cab remained on the hard shoulder while firefighters battled the flames and damped down, before the truck was removed and emergency roadworks began in the afternoon.

One lane is expected to remain closed as resurfacing work takes place overnight.

It was initially believed the lorry was carrying tinned dog food, with police reporting that cans had exploded over the carriageway. However, firefighters later revealed that the tins had actually contained sports drink powder.

The truck was also loaded with malt grain, floor tiles and chocolate eggs.

Firefighters deal with the truck while traffic passes in one lane. Photo: Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service

Firefighters deal with the truck while traffic passes in one lane. Photo: Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service

Both lanes of the northbound carriageway were closed between junctions 14 for Stafford North and 15 for Stoke after the fire started at around 5.30am, causing congestion back towards Junction 13 and Gailey.

One lane was reopened at around 7.30am but major tailbacks remained in place all morning and into the afternoon as traffic crawled past the lorry. This had a knock-on effect on the A34 and A449 through Stafford.

A second lane was reopened shortly before 2pm but the inside lane is not expected to reopen until Thursday.

This Central Motorways Policing Group photo shows flames rising from the HGV

This Central Motorways Policing Group photo shows flames rising from the HGV

The aftermath of the blaze. Photo: Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service

The aftermath of the blaze. Photo: Staffordshire Fire & Rescue Service

Southbound traffic was also briefly halted, while some of the sports drink cans were seen ‘exploding’ onto both sides of the carriageway, according to police.

Three fire engines from Stafford, Stone and Eccleshall were sent to battle the fire and remained on the scene throughout the morning.

A Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service spokesman said: “The HGV, which was fully alight, was located between Junction 14 and Junction 15.

“Fire crews worked to tackle the fire and once it was under control two engines left the scene.

“It was initially believed that the load contained tinned dog food, with tins exploding in the fire.

The fire-damaged lorry is removed from the motorway. Photo: Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service

The fire-damaged lorry is removed from the motorway. Photo: Staffordshire Fire and Rescue Service

“However, upon closer inspection it has been established the tins actually contain sports drink powder.

“The mixed load also contained white goods, malt grain, floor tiles and chocolate eggs.

“Firefighters are working in partnership with colleagues from the Highways Agency, who are managing the road closures, carrying out recovery work and assessing the damage to the carriageway.”

While the lane closures were in place, Highways England advised northbound drivers to exit the motorway at Junction 14 and follow the hollow triangle diversion – using the A34 and A500 to rejoin the M6 at Junction 15.