Smoked cheese on the M25 as lorry goes up in flames 12 hours after crash near Upminster

PUBLISHED: 13:26 22 June 2015 | UPDATED: 18:00 22 June 2015

Lorry fire by A13 J of M25 N in Upminster

Lorry fire by A13 J of M25 N in Upminster


A 45ft long lorry filled with cheese has caught alight just 12 hours after it crashed into a bridge barrier, careering off the M25 and spilling around 1,000 litres of diesel onto St Mary’s Lane, Upminster.

Lorry on fire at St Marys's Lane/ M25 UpminsterLorry on fire at St Marys's Lane/ M25 Upminster

Fire crews have returned to the scene and are battling the blaze which is spouting thick black smoke over the motorway.

Emergency services were called to the scene just after 11pm last night and the driver was taken to hospital as a precaution.

The lorry had crashed into the barrier between junctions 29 and 30 and spilled off the motorway onto the road below causing the fuel tank to split and diesel to pour across the grass and road.

James Hanford, 40, a director at a Koi fish company in St Mary’s Lane, was driving behind the lorry when it appeared to lose control and flip over.

Lorry on fire at St Marys's Lane/ M25 UpminsterLorry on fire at St Marys's Lane/ M25 Upminster

“It was very dramatic,” he said, “there was smoke coming out of the lorry and the driver ahead of me said he heard a loud bang so we thought it must be a blown tyre.

“I saw the driver wrestling to regain control of the lorry before it flipped over and went down the bank.

“By the time I pulled over and got there the driver was climbing out of the windscreen.”

Mr Hanford described how the driver was very shocked and subdued immediately after the crash.

The lorry before it caught alight. Picture Jean MitchellThe lorry before it caught alight. Picture Jean Mitchell

He added: “The driver just wanted to sit on the floor, it took us a while to get him to move further away from the lorry and diesel was pouring out of it very quickly.

“There was steam coming from underneath it – hydraulic fluid at a guess – and you could feel the heat coming from the engine.”

The M25 was closed in both directions at the height of the blaze but has now reopened since the London Fire Brigade brought it under control at 1.25pm.

Three fire engines and 15 firemen attended the scene from Hornchurch and Dagenham stations.

Did you see anything? Call Harriet on 020 8477 3903 or send pictures to

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