Emergency evacuation after Wallasey tunnel fire
WALLASEY tunnel had to be evacuated after a lorry burst into flames.
Fire crews were called to the Kingsway Tunnel, which runs from Wallasey to Liverpool, at about 2.30pm yesterday after reports the cab of a lorry was on fire.
Six fire engines were sent to the scene and people were asked to leave their cars before being led out of the tunnel through the emergency refuges by fire crews. About 30 people were evacuated and three were treated by paramedics at the scene for minor injuries.
Director of integrated transport for Merseytravel Alan Stillwell said the fire had started in a lorry in the Kingsway Tunnel in the northbound carriageway, which heads towards Liverpool.
He said: “Standard evacuation procedures were followed and the tunnel was closed.”
He said smoke was issuing from the ventilation shaft on the Liverpool side.
The tunnel was closed in both directions after the fire.
An eyewitness said: “It was traffic chaos. The motorway slip road wasn’t closed straight away and cars were coming down to the tunnel and having to turn round.
“There were about six ambulances there as well as fire engines and police cars.”
Mr Stilwell said the Highways Agency had been informed and traffic was diverted from the M53.
Merseyside Police was also involved in diverting traffic.
The fire was out by about 3.30pm but fire crews remained at the scene until about 4.50pm.
A recovery vehicle arrived after 4pm to remove the vehicle from the tunnel.
A spokeswoman for the Merseyside Fire and Rescue said the cause of the blaze was not yet known but reports suggested it had started in the cab of the light goods vehicle.
She added: “We had some reports people suffering from slight smoke inhalation but there were no serious injuries. The vehicle wasn’t carrying any hazardous materials.”
The southbound side of the tunnel was reopened at about 5.30pm to traffic in both directions and the northbound side was expected to be reopened later last night.