By Duncan Gibbon
The Coventry Telegraph
WARWICKSHIRE COUNTY, England — The fireman in charge of the toxic lorry blaze on the M6 has revealed how the various chemicals on board hampered their efforts to fight the flames.
Nuneaton station commander Steve Langhor said the truck carried 1,000 litres of highly flammable acetone, containers of toxic carbon hydrochloride, and a "whole list of other chemicals", some of which react violently to water.
Three huge rolls of paper were also on board. The lorry caught fire just north of Corley Services at 9:30 a.m. on Wednesday after suffering a tyre blow-out.
Mr Langhor said the German lorry driver spoke excellent English and had "reasonable data" about his cargo, but he did not have all the information they needed to form an immediate plan of action.
An 800-metre exclusion zone was set up around the burning trailer and people living nearby were told to keep their windows shut.
Mr Langhor said: "When we got there the fire was quite fierce but we hadn't got all the data to form a plan of action.
"We always go for worst case scenario: what's the worst, nastiest thing on there? "Probably the carbon hydrochlorides because if you breath it in it can cause pulmonary edema (fluid in the lungs).
"We decided on a defensive approach, moving members of the public away so it wasn't going to create any more harm."
Eight firefighters and the lorry driver were among ten people taken to hospital with breathing problems after being overcome by fumes. Some people were stuck in their cars for hours in freezing temperatures, while others were taken by coach to Corley Services.
The last fire appliance left the scene at 7:30 p.m. and the motorway reopened just before 10 p.m.
Responding to some criticism that the exclusion zone and full motorway closure was overkill, he added: "Given the fact we had ten people go to hospital with breathing problems I think what we did was on the money."
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