Commuters travelling around the Wollongong area on the NSW coast are being heavily urged to take a different route than the Princes Motorway/M1 this morning after a tanker truck has exploded into flames on the southbound side of the motorway.
as reported by the Illawarra Mercury, the tanker, which is suspected to have been carrying around 35,000 litres of unleaded and E10 petrol, burst into flames on the M1 this morning at around 9am, causing heavy traffic and delays as the roads in both directions were shut down. Firefighters are currently on the scene attempting to battle the blaze, and reports are stating that local residents in the surrounding area of West Wollongong have been evacuated for safety reasons.
— 9News Illawarra (@9NewsIllawarra) January 3, 2019
Paramedics on the scene have reported no injuries as a result of the explosion, and the truck’s driver was able to get out of the vehicle before the fire really took hold. Reports have also stated that there is now a two-kilometre exclusion zone being set up around the tanker.
Traffic is currently very heavy in the area near the blaze, as commuters and travellers are slowly being diverted off the highway via old Mt Ousley Rd at Fairy Meadow for southbound traffic and Five Islands Rd near Unanderra for northbound traffic.
— Samara Gardner (@SamaraMGardner) January 3, 2019
As per the Mercury, there are unconfirmed reports that the tanker still has approximately 20,000L of petrol to burn through, and fire crews are currently approaching the blaze from all angles, including an overhead vantage point from Geards Place in West Wollongong.
Several rural fire services are on the site to assist, and a rarely-seen semi-trailer full of water present.
If you are travelling toward the West Wollongong area today, it’s highly recommended that you take steps to find an alternate route to skip the affected stretch of both the M1 and the Princes Highway, as heavy traffic backs up to New Mt Pleasant Rd at Balgownie in the north, down to Five Islands Rd in the south, out to Rosemont St on the highway east toward the city centre, and over to Cordeaux Rd at Kembla Heights to the west.