M6 Closure Southbound, Staffordshire, Wednesday 09 September 2015

The M6 in Stafford­shire was closed south­bound between Junc­tion 16 and J15  due to a Heavy Goods Vehi­cle fire and sub­se­quent road sur­face dam­age caused by radi­ated heat from the fire which required emer­gency repairs.

At approx­i­mately 14:14 our West Mid­lands Regional Con­trol Cen­tre became aware of an inci­dent involv­ing a Heavy Goods Vehi­cle on the south­bound car­riage­way of the M6. CCTV images mon­i­tored at the con­trol cen­tre showed a large Artic­u­lated HGV on fire. Emer­gency Ser­vices were noti­fied and were mobilised by their respec­tive Con­trol rooms. The fire at this time appeared to be con­fined to the back wheels of the HGV and con­fir­ma­tion was received at the Regional Con­trol Cen­tre that Stafford­shire Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice  (FRS) were access­ing the M6 from J16. A short while later the Cen­tral Motor­way Police Group (CMPG) were in atten­dance and they stopped the traf­fic, which at this stage was pass­ing the inci­dent using lane 3.

It was ascer­tained that the HGV was loaded with approx­i­mately 24 tonnes of MDF board­ing and Stafford­shire Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice directed that this would need to be unloaded at scene. Sub­se­quently it became appar­ent that the inci­dent was likely to be pro­tracted. At 14:43  CMPG took the deci­sion to close the car­riage­way at J16. The fire at this stage had taken hold of the vehicle.

Due to the loca­tion of the fire Stafford­shire FRS were exhaust­ing their water sup­plies and they requested addi­tional water bowsers to scene in order to tackle the fire effec­tively.  With the road now closed by our Traf­fic Offi­cers with the assis­tance of CMPG traf­fic was directed off the M6 at J16 to fol­low a robust diver­sion indi­cated by the Hol­low Square sym­bol which routed traf­fic along the A500 from J16 to J15.



Oper­a­tions con­tin­ued at scene to extin­guish the fire, and prepa­ra­tions were also being put into place to recover the HGV, clear the burnt load, and resur­face the road; although at this stage the exact extent of dam­age to the car­riage­way was unknown and would require fur­ther inspec­tion. By 16:20 rear­ward relief of the trapped traf­fic behind the inci­dent was under­way and delays of 90 min­utes were being reported by our National Traf­fic Oper­a­tions Cen­tre (NTOC).

Stafford­shire FRS were relay­ing water to scene using mul­ti­ple water bowsers and by 16:12 were hop­ing to get lane 3 run­ning past the inci­dent. The Police had left the scene by now and over­all con­trol of the inci­dent lay with the Fire Service.


By 18:25 all the trapped traf­fic had been cleared behind the scene. Vehi­cle recov­ery had arrived at scene to assist with removal of the fire dam­aged debris and ascer­tain the require­ments for recov­er­ing the HGV. Delays remained con­stant at 90 min­utes although ear­lier had peaked at 120 min­utes. Work con­tin­ued between the Fire Ser­vice and the recov­ery oper­a­tors to remove the load and spread it on the car­raige­way in order to dampen it down prior to removal. 

At 21:21 the HGV was recov­ered and removed from scene. The load remained well alight and Fire crews con­tin­ued to extin­guish it in order for it to be removed. A sweeper arrived on scene at 23:26 to assist with car­riage­way clear­ance. Stafford­shire Fire and Res­cue Ser­vice deemed the fire extin­guished at 00:11 and sub­se­quently left scene and  prepa­ra­tions were put into place circa 01:40 to begin re-surfacing. The road remained closed through­out this period how­ever by 23:26 delays had dropped to 60 min­utes, and by 01:40 (10/09/15) were sig­nif­i­cantly lower at 10 min­utes. At 04:13 the road was re-opened with re-surfacing com­pleted.  All lanes were once again avail­able and the diver­sion was removed. 

Our National Inci­dent Liai­son Offi­cers pro­duced reg­u­lar updated reports on the progress of the inci­dent to the National and Local media and third party traf­fic infor­ma­tion providers (such as the BBC) pro­vided reg­u­lar updates on the clo­sure and its impact via both online and local and national radio. The High­ways Eng­land Press Office also issued a brief­ing to the media regard­ing this inci­dent and detail­ing what was happening.

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

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