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M40 car blaze: Closure was essential, says fire chief
THE closure of the M40 this afternoon was necessary, a fire chief has explained, because the blazing car had a liquid petroleum gas tank and could have exploded.
Fire crews from High Wycombe said they were met with some disgruntlement from drivers when the northbound stretch of the motorway between High Wycombe and Stokenchurch was shut around 3pm.
The blaze was potentially extremely dangerous because of the type of fuel carried by the cherokee jeep.
The driver and two passengers got out completely unharmed but the car was virtually destroyed.
Watch Manager Jon Franklin said: “Because it was an LPG tank I have procedures I have to put in place for that which unfortunately involved closing down the motorway northbound until I was satisfied we cooled the cylinder to a temperature which we deemed safe.”
Drivers faced delays of over an hour but Mr Franklin stressed the car was highly combustible and it was vital they had erred on the side of caution.
“People would look at the vehicle as they drove past and think what's all the fuss?” he said.
“Somebody did question it and one or two people did get a bit irate because unfortunately they did not understand what was going on in the car and what we were dealing with.
“The worst case scenario is we let the traffic flow, it's a botched system in the car, it explodes and it takes us and other vehicles out,” he said.
“Hence why we have the procedures in place.
“It could have been worse in this case, importantly because it was a proper system the safety mechanisms worked and it started to vent and cool down.
“Sometimes you come across cars without these mechanisms which is when they become more dangerous to us and members of the public.”
Police and Highways Agency agreed with the closure, he said. It reopened about 5pm.
He added: “When we were arriving, in the distance you could see it was well alight because there was an immense amount of smoke.
“But we brought the incident to a fairly quick closure.”
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