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Lorry fire closes M20 in both directions at junction 8 for Leeds Castle

By Anna Young

A major lorry fire that closed the M20 London-bound for nine hours has been causing commuter chaos this evening.

Motorists endured delays of an hour-and-a-half tonight after the HGV carrying 38 tonnes of soft fruit burst into flames near junction 8 at Leeds Castle this morning.

The road was reopened at about 7.30pm, but the Highways Agency warned delays would continue into the evening.

The smouldering wreck of a lorry on the M20. Picture: Highways Agency

Congestion had been stretching back to junction 10 at Ashford South while one carriageway remained shut.

Four crews from Kent Fire and Rescue Service were called to the blaze at 10.40am.

Both carriageways were closed at just before 11am - but the coast-bound stretch reopened soon afterwards.

The truck had to be unloaded before it could be moved and allow traffic to pass.

Three grab lorries are working at the scene to clear the debris from the smouldering wreckage before the road could be fully reopened at about 7.30pm.

The burnt-out lorry on the M20. Picture: Matt Walker
The lorry fire which has shut the M20 in both directions around Leeds Castle
Smoke is clearly seen above the queues on the M20. Picture: @emsalmon

The HGV, which is carrying a refrigeration unit containing the fruit, burst into flames on the London-bound side. The vehicle was left on the hard shoulder.

Drivers were being diverted along the A20 and there is believed to be debris and barrier damage.

The coast-bound carriageway was reopened after 11.40am and the Highways Agency was turning trapped traffic from London-bound around.

Trapped traffic had been released past the scene in lane three, but there were still long queues up to the closure.

People have been getting out of their cars to see the lorry fire on the M20. Picture: @emsalmon

Meanwhile, a crash between a lorry and a car on the London-bound stretch of the M20 between junctions 9 and 10 has been causing more delays.

For more details, click here.

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