Drivers face bank holiday motorway nightmare as tanker fire shuts M4 both ways

Rachael Pells
The fire is understood to involve a BOC gas tanker: Tim Shires

A major fire on the M4 has caused serious delays to Easter bank holiday traffic, after a lorry carrying compressed gas caught fire.

The motorway was closed in both directions between junction 17 at Chippenham and junction 18 for Bath following the blaze on the eastbound carriageway.

The fire caused lengthy tailbacks with drivers queuing for over an hour to pass.

Firefighters from Dorset & Wiltshire Fire & Rescue Service and Avon Fire & Rescue Service tackled the fire which was believed to involve a BOC gas tanker.

Wiltshire Police at one point feared the road would need to be evacuated and warned drivers already caught up in the delays to stay in their vehicles and await further instructions.

Highways England told drivers to expect delays and to use alternative routes if possible.

The traffic jam comes as millions of Britons embark on Easter holiday trips. An estimated 20 million journeys are expected to be made between Thursday and Easter Monday.

The motorway partially re-opened later on Friday afternoon. No one appears to have been injured.

One lane of the eastbound carriageway remains closed. Normal conditions are expected by about 10pm on Friday.

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