M25 Closure J25-J24 Anti-Clockwise, Hertfordshire. Wednesday 23 September 2015

The M25 in Hert­ford­shire was closed anti-clockwise between junc­tions J25-J24 on the morn­ing of Wednes­day 23 Sep­tem­ber due to a car trans­ported fire. It took 6 fire engines and 30 fire fight­ers from Lon­don Fire Brigade to tackle blaze.

At approx­i­mately 07:30 our Traf­fic Offi­cers were deployed to a car trans­porter that was on fire. They were quickly on  scene and brought traf­fic to halt prior to the inci­dent to ensure the safety of motorists and to cre­ate a ster­ile area for emer­gency ser­vices to work. Our Regional Con­trol Cen­tre oper­a­tors set signs and sig­nals  locally to warn you of the inci­dent and our National Traf­fic Oper­a­tions Cen­tre set warn­ing signs fur­ther afield so that motorists  head­ing in that direc­tion could choose alter­na­tive routes. Our National Inci­dent Liai­son Offi­cers briefed the local and national media and used our web and social media ser­vices to notify you of the inci­dent. As our Traf­fic Offi­cers had the car­riage­way at a com­plete stop, Lon­don Fire Brigade could access the motor­way at J24 and travel “reverse flow” to the inci­dent scene. Another High­ways Eng­land Traf­fic Offi­cer crew were deployed to J24 to escort the fire ser­vice safely to scene.

At 08:09 our crews were poised to close the M25 at J25. Before they did this our National Inci­dent Liai­son Offi­cers pub­lished the signed diver­sion route across all our web ser­vices and to the media. The sym­bol for the diver­sion, (the hol­low square) was dis­played on Vari­able Mes­sage Signs on approach to the clo­sure and our Regional Con­trol Cen­tre  checked with the local author­ity that the local roads were clear of inci­dents and road­works. The fire ser­vice con­tin­ued to tackle the blaze and our ser­vice providers deployed their crews to assess car­riage­way dam­age and to help clean up so that lanes could re-open as soon as it was safe to do so.

Con­sid­er­a­tion was given to turn trapped traf­fic how­ever indi­ca­tions from the fire ser­vice were that we would be able to re-open at least 2 lanes past the scene within 60 min­utes and by 09:21 lanes 3 and 4 were open.  There was approx­i­mately 10  miles of queu­ing traf­fic with con­ges­tion back to J27 when we re-opened the road with delays in excess of 90 min­utes above what they would have been nor­mally at that time of the morn­ing. Work con­tin­ued to make the scene safe and to clear the foam, oil and debris from the car­riage­way so that more lanes could be open. By 10:13 we had 3 lanes open past the scene with 1 lane remain­ing closed for safety rea­sons. We made the deci­sion not to recover the vehi­cles dur­ing the day as the recov­ery agent would require 3 lanes closed to safely work which would cause the delays that were now eas­ing to increase again. Our ser­vice provider and Traf­fic Offi­cers remained on scene dur­ing the day to ensure the recov­ery agents had a safe work­ing area to plan the recov­ery phase of the inci­dent later that night.

By 12:30 the ear­lier delays had cleared and traf­fic con­di­tions in the area had returned to nor­mal. Our ser­vice provider con­tin­ued to clear the area of spillages and our recov­ery agent deployed all the nec­es­sary equip­ment to the scene to recover the vehi­cles. At 23:00 3 lanes were closed past the scene for the spe­cial­ist recov­ery to take place. Due to the intense heat from the fire the vehi­cles were welded together and cut­ting equip­ment had to be used to free them. A crane was then used to lift the cars one by one on to the back of a recov­ery truck and the actual car trans­porter on to a low loader. At 01:43 the recov­ery oper­a­tion was com­plete and our Traf­fic Offi­cers escorted the recov­ery vehi­cles off the motor­way. Our ser­vice provider inspected the car­riage­way that was beneath the car trans­porter and found there to be only min­i­mal dam­age. They used a spe­cial­ist clean­ing vehi­cle to sweep and clean the car­riage­way and by 03:28 the clean up oper­a­tion was com­plete and all lanes were open.

High­ways Eng­land would like to thank motorists for their patience dur­ing this lengthy incident.

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