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Fuel tanker bursts into flames on the M1 at West Wollongong

Article image for Fuel tanker bursts into flames on the M1 at West Wollongong

Image: Nine News Illawarra

A petrol tanker has burst into flames on the M1 Princes Motorway at West Wollongong, sparking traffic chaos.

The fire, which started just before 9am, has closed the motorway in both directions and motorists are being urged to avoid the area.

Emergency services are on the scene and about 80 firefighters have successfully worked to extinguish the blaze.

The driver of the truck pulled over when he noticed smoke coming out of the cabin and has managed to escape the vehicle.

He hasn’t been injured.

Norman Buckley from Fire and Rescue NSW tells Deborah Knight the fire may be out but the “job’s not over yet”.

“Obviously [there’s] a lot of damage down there. We want to maintain that foam blanket to make sure there’s no reignition.

Click PLAY below for an update

Traffic is extremely heavy in both directions and the motorway is expected to be closed until this evening at the earliest.

Southbound motorists are being diverted onto Mount Ousley Road, the Princes Highway, Bourke Road, Corrimal Street, Springhill Road and Masters Road to re-join the motorway.

Northbound traffic is being diverted onto Five Islands Road and the Princes Highway to re-join the motorway.

Queues are extending up to 4km at some diversion points and the Transport Management Centre says motorists should avoid the area completely if possible.

NSW Police Traffic and Highway Patrol Chief Inspector Phil Brooks tells Deborah Knight it’ll be a “long and protracted operation” and local evacuations have taken place.

“We’re asking motorists to follow advice from police on the ground,” he says.

“[The motorway] will be shut down right through the day and into the night and… we’re asking all road users to perhaps avoid their travel today.”

Click PLAY below for the update from Chief Inspector Phil Brooks

Listener Ian was on the motorway after the accident, telling Chris Smith traffic is bumper to bumper and the truck is well alight.

“It’s on fire and the median strip section of the freeway has also caught on fire from it.”

Click PLAY below to hear from listener Ian

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Avoid the area