10 treated after M6 tanker blaze


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The Independent Online

10 people, including eight firefighters, have been treated in hospital for breathing difficulties after toxic fumes were reportedly released following a chemical tanker fire which shut parts of the M6 motorway.

The driver of the lorry, which was carrying chemicals and paper, was among those who received medical treatment.

A statement from the Strategic Co-ordinating Group, released through Warwickshire County Council, said all those who were admitted to hospital have now been released with no lasting ill- effects.

The group said there was no danger to the public following the blaze.

The chemical tanker was on fire when emergency service crews arrived at the scene on the M6, between junctions 3 and 3a, at around 9.30am.

As a result, both carriageways of the motorway were closed with a restricted cordon of 800m enforced around the incident.

Many motorists close to the fire were evacuated from their vehicles as a precautionary measure and moved away from the area.

A total of 118 stranded drivers and passengers who were caught up in aftermath of the incident were taken by coaches to the nearby Corley services, West Midlands Ambulance Service (WMAS) said.

It is hoped the motorway will reopen later today.

The Strategic Co-ordinating Group said in the statement: "The group is able to reiterate its assurances to the public that no risk is posed.

"Any smouldering from the scene is a result of the burning paper and is not connected to chemicals.

"Work is progressing to get the people displaced from their vehicles to Corley Services Station back on the road.

"Our priority will then be to get the M6 open again."

The chemical tanker caught fire at around 9.30am after the vehicle suffered a tyre blow-out.

The motorway was closed between junctions 3 and 3A northbound and junctions 4 and 3 southbound, the Highways Agency said.

Motorists were asked to avoid the area as long delays were expected.

The junction 2 and 3 northbound access was also closed, as well as the slip road from Corley services between junctions 3 and 4 in both directions.

WMAS said five ambulances, a paramedic in a rapid response vehicle, an incident paramedic officer and the specialist Hazardous Area Response Team (Hart), capable of dealing with large and complex incidents, were sent to the scene of the accident.

The 10 patients who received treatment "self-presented" to ambulance crews at the scene.

A spokesman said: "They were assessed and treated for breathing difficulties by ambulance crews before being conveyed to hospital.

"The patients were all taken to the University Hospital of Coventry and Warwickshire as a precaution for further assessment and treatment."