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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