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Fire on M8 sparks tailback chaos on nation’s busiest road

Travellers hoping to take advantage of a glorious Indian summer weekend yesterday found themselves trapped in an enormous tailback on Scotland’s busiest road.

The eastbound carriageway of the M8 was closed for four hours following a chemical spill and lorry fire, leaving hundreds stranded.

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The tailback even managed to ruin Saturday afternoon football for thousands of fans when Kilmarnock FC, stuck in the massive traffic jam, had to cancel their game against Hearts.

The blaze happened at about 10.30 yesterday morning in the area around junction five, Kirk of Shotts, and diversions were put in place.

In the aftermath of the fire, hundreds of motorists, including many families with young children, were caught between junctions five and six.

Some claimed they were offered little in the way of information or support.

Against the advice of the emergency services, some even got out their cars, anxious to find out why they were delayed for such a lengthy time.

Motorist Paul Rowinski, 44, was trapped in the gridlock with his two young sons, aged four and six.

Rowinksi said over the phone from the huge tailback: "We have been stranded without information for hours.

"We have had no communication from the emergency services. There’s nothing coming up the hard shoulder or giving us any announcements.

"I appreciate the emergency services have a job to do but we’re not being told anything."

Rowinski said that motorists were passing rumours to each other that the interminable hold-up was down to a chemical spillage.

He said he was angry that he and his family had received no information about why they’d been stuck on the motorway for so long.

"It seems pretty shoddy. If they knew there was a fire at junction five, why didn’t they close off the motorway instead of letting people carry on into gridlock?"

Rowinksi described motorists getting out of their cars to see what was happening, and said he could see over three miles of queuing traffic in front, and behind him.

Motorists caught up in the chaos included two football clubs: Kilmarnock, who were en route to an SPL match against Hearts at Tynecastle, and Stranraer who were on their way for a third division game against Berwick.

The Kilmarnock game was cancelled and has been rescheduled for Tuesday night at 7.45pm.

In a statement, Hearts said: "The game against Kilmarnock has been postponed as a result of a serious accident on the M8.

"The Kilmarnock team bus was stranded for three hours at Newhouse following a chemical spill and subsequent fire.

"With the players stuck in traffic and visiting supporters also unable to make it to Tynecastle, club officials took the decision to abort the game.

"Hearts manager Csaba Laszlo and Kilmarnock manager Jim Jefferies, who was not with the Kilmarnock party, met with managing director Campbell Ogilvie and match referee Willie Collum and the decision was taken to call off the match.

"Best estimates would have seen the game kicking off at 4.30pm but with no guarantee that Kilmarnock’s players and supporters could be here by then it was felt better to make an early decision.

"Hearts v Kilmarnock will now take place on Tuesday at 7.45pm. Tickets will be valid for the new fixture and remain on sale. Hospitality clients will be contacted directly by the club."

A spokeswoman for BEAR Scotland, which maintains the nation’s trunk roads, said: "As soon as we were aware of the incident we began diverting people off. The police and emergency services are the first to be alerted to any incident like this. The police are helping motorists stuck between junction five and junction six.

"Police closed the road just after 11am and we were called in to support at 11.15am. Our Trunk Road Incident Support vehicle was involved."

Strathclyde Police said the M8 eastbound re-opened at 3.10pm yesterday.

 

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