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Thousands of drivers hit by rush hour chaos after Eddie Stobart lorry carrying COLA cans is gutted in motorway blaze
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- Eddie Stobart lorry caught fire at junction 9 of the M6 at around 3.15pm
- Motorists caught up in tailbacks as motorway remains closed between junctions 7 and 10
- Plume of smoke emerging from blazing vehicle, which was carrying thousands of cans of soft drink, was 'visible for miles'
By Kerry Mcdermott
PUBLISHED: 12:59 EST, 9 January 2013 | UPDATED: 09:13 EST, 10 January 2013
A lorry carrying cans of soft drink burst into flames on a busy motorway, leaving thousands of drivers caught up in rush hour tailbacks.
A section of the M6 motorway remains closed after the Eddie Stobart truck caught fire at junction 9, north of Birmingham, at around 3.15pm this afternoon.
The lorry is understood to have been filled with thousands of cans of cola and other soft drinks which began 'exploding' as a result of the blaze, the Highways Agency said.
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Dramatic: The Eddie Stobart lorry burst into flames on the M6 motorway between Junctions 7 and 9, near Birmingham
The dramatic scene was captured on camera by John Trifonos, whose photographs show the lorry can and wheels flaming.
'You could literally see the plume of smoke for miles,' he said.
'I slowed down to take the photo but the heat from the fire was that intense I couldn't pause for long.
'I've never felt heat like it - it was like a furnace. Immense but very frightening.
'You could also hear popping and crackling sounds as the fire consumed the lorry,' Mr Trifonos said.
Flames: The lorry was carrying thousands of cans of cola and other soft drinks that began to 'explode' as a result of the fire, the Highways Agency said
Disruption: The plume of smoke emerging from the flaming lorry was 'visible for miles', one motorist said
Eddie Stobart spokesman Glenn Patterson said the lorry had been carrying palettes loaded with cans of a variety of soft drinks.
Mr Patterson said the cause of the incident was still under investigation, but it is suspected to have been the result of a technical fault inside one of the lorry's wheels.
Nobody was injured in the blaze, West Midlands Police said.
The Highways Agency said the motorway was closed northbound between junctions 7 and 10, as was the link from the M5 north to the M6 at junction 8, and added that delays were expected until well after the evening rush hour.
The closures were causing delays of around one hour.
A spokeswoman said: 'It happened at around 3.15pm. At the minute there are closures from junction 7 to 10 of the M6 on the northbound carriageway, and we are advising motorists to find alternative routes where possible.
'We are not expecting it to be cleared up until the early evening,' she added.
Chris Caine, operations manager at the Highways Agency, said: 'We are working closely with the fire service to clear the incident as soon as possible.
'We have reopened the majority of the motorway between junctions 7 and 10 but two lanes remain closed past the scene.
'We will have to examine the carriageway and determine what repairs are needed before we can fully re-open the road.'
The Environment Agency also attended the scene today, where liquid from the lorry began seeping into the drainage system.