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Fire disrupts travel for football fans

Travellers faced delays yesterday after a fire forced the closure of part of the M1 and disruption to rail services. The motorway was closed in both directions in north London and may not reopen until midday today.

The disruption is likely to cause problems for football fans heading to the FA Cup semi-final between Manchester United and Manchester City. The road was closed from junctions one to four as around 40 firefighters tackled a fire in a scrapyard, which broke out at about 4am near Scratchwood Services and Ellesmere Avenue in Mill Hill. There were fears that gas cylinders in the scrapyard could explode.

Traffic volumes are higher than usual because of Easter travellers, football fans travelling to Wembley and the London Marathon on Sunday.

The Highways Agency said it was assessing the M1 viaduct structure to see if there was any severe damage, and diversion routes were put in place. An East Midlands Trains spokeswoman said that half of the tracks on the Midland mainline between St Pancras and Bedford were closed.

The Agency said it would not make a decision as to whether the motorway would reopen until about 10am this morning.