M6 Closure Northbound, Staffordshire, Wednesday 8th March 2017
The M6 in Staffordshire was closed northbound between J14 and J15 due to a Heavy Goods Vehicle (HGV) which caught fire. The fire caused serious damage to the carriageway and severe travel disruption to road users whilst the road was closed for recovery, clean-up and road repairs.
At approximately 05:13 Staffordshire Police received a telephone call from the driver of a 44 tonne HGV to advise they had stopped on to the hard shoulder due to his
vehicle being on fire. Police immediately made our West Midlands Regional Control
Centre (RCC) aware and they dispatched Highways England Traffic Officer patrols to scene with the first arriving at 05:19. Our Traffic Officers confirmed the vehicle was well ablaze and needed a closure of 2 lanes immediately. The RCC used electronic Variable Message Signals (VMS) to warn road users of the incident ahead.
At this point Highways England’s National Traffic Operations Centre (NTOC) in
Birmingham was made aware and could begin to consider strategic VMS signs to move vehicles away from the incident. Our Highways England National Incident
Liaison Officer (NILO) was able to utilise social media with the first tweet being
published to our @HighwaysWMIDS feed at 05:30 and publish a report to inform the travel media. Central Motorway Police Group arrived on scene at 05:22 and a
decision was made to block the carriageway due to debris being flung from the fire.
With traffic now held this allowed Staffordshire Fire & Rescue to get to the scene and their first unit arrived at 05:31 and immediately began to tackle the blaze. A further 5 Fire & Rescue vehicles were requested to assist with the incident as the fire
continued to burn, in addition they also had to deal with the vehicle tyres and cans of dog food exploding. The HGV was confirmed to be carrying dog food, plastic clips, wheat and barley as well as various other packages. Traffic was held on the
southbound carriageway at 05:38 due to the ferocity of the fire and the debris which had spilled across. Once the debris was cleared and the carriageway was deemed safe, the southbound traffic was released at 06:33.
The Northbound carriageway was officially closed at 06:08 with a signed diversion implemented at J14 to advise motorists to follow the hollow triangle symbol along the A34 north via Stone to the junction with the A500, head west to re-join the M6 at J15. VMS was set with an 84 mile radius to advise motorists of the M6 road closure. In addition bespoke VMS was set to advise of ’90 MINS DELAY’ and ‘LANES CLOSED UNTIL AT LEAST 10PM’ to provide motorists with a clear message of what was
happening at the scene. Information regarding the progress of the incident as well as details of the delays and diversion route was disseminated to the public via
Highways England’s online travel information services, social media and both local and national third party traffic information providers.
At approximately 06:45 Staffordshire Fire & Rescue requested further water supplies due to the amount of water already dispensed on trying to douse the HGV. A further water unit promptly arrived and allowed Fire & Rescue to continue tackling the blaze. With the fire largely now under control the scene was deemed safe enough to release traffic trapped within the closure past the scene at low speed in one lane at 07:17.
At 07:27 Fire and Rescue confirmed that the fire was out however would need to fully remove the HGV’s load to ensure that the fire had been fully extinguished. Fire and Rescue would also remain in attendance due to the concern of the fire reigniting at any point.
An initial request for recovery was pro-actively made at 05:28 to ensure that recovery contractors would be on hand and ready once the area was deemed safe for them to attend. Recovery consisting of a low loader, 2 skips, and a heavy recovery vehicle were on scene at 08:22.
At 07:53 the West Midlands RCC contacted our contractors to confirm there was a significant fuel spillage and they would be required to attend with specialist clean up materials once recovery complete. At 10:50 a sweeper attended and was able to clear a lane of all spillages and debris which has resulted from the fire. Now that the sweeper had completed clearing the lane this allowed the road to be re-opened as the fire was under control and the resulting damage was confined to lanes 1 and 2.
The road was re-opened at 11:41 with 2 lanes closed at the scene to allow the
recovery to continue and debris to be cleared. At 13:11 the load from the HGV had been fully removed and recovery had now left scene allowing specialist clean up teams to attend. Works to clear a substantial diesel spill of approximately 300 litres begun at 14:12 and cleaning was completed by 16:13 with the potential of returning later
following a carriageway assessment.
The carriageway was assessed and contractors deemed that emergency
carriageway re-surfacing was required due to the significant damage to the motorway as a result of the fire and substantial diesel spillage. 2 lanes would remain closed overnight on the 8th/9th of March to allow these repairs to take place safely and road to be fully re-opened on completion for the morning traffic.
If you were affected by this closure Highways England would like to thank you for your patience and understanding throughout this event.