Page last updated at 08:28 GMT, Thursday, 19 June 2008 09:28 UK

Diesel tanker fire shuts motorway

Tanker on fire
Fire crews used 9,000 litres of water to cool the axle

A fire involving a tanker carrying 29,000 litres of diesel caused severe delays on the M4 in Berkshire.

The motorway was closed in both directions between junction 12 for Reading and junction 13 for Chieveley. Traffic was diverted via the A4.

Emergency services were called to the westbound carriageway at 0532 BST after the tanker's axle caught alight.

Crews extinguished the fire and cooled the area with 9,000 litres of water. The motorway was reopened at 0800 BST.

It is not known how the fire started, but crews spent more than an hour cooling the axle area on the tanker after the fire was put out.

Dozens of vehicles stuck between the closed junctions were being allowed past the accident slowly, although the inside lane was still closed. The eastbound carriageway was reopened but had major tailbacks.

Map of accident
Motorists were being advised to divert along the A4

One motorist told BBC Radio Berkshire: "I'm trying to get to a hospital appointment.

"I'm completely stuck, it is absolutely solid. There is no way I'm going to make my appointment on time."

A Thames Valley Police spokesman said: "Severe delays have been caused to motorists but the motorway has now been reopened.

"Firefighters put the main flames out but needed extra time to extinguish smoke and steam which could have been potentially dangerous."

The fire service said the location of the tanker was on the M4 about two miles east of Chieveley.

A Highways Agency spokesman confirmed the surface of the road was examined for fire damage before the decision was made to partially reopen the affected carriageway.

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