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.

Pic­ture cour­tesy of Cen­tral Motor­way Police Group.

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.