A LORRY fire has caused delays of up to two hours on the southbound carriageway of the M61.

The blaze, which happened at about 8am, initially led to the carriageway being completely closed, with two lanes travelling northbound also shut. 

Fire crews from Greater Manchester and Lancashire tackled the blaze, which started near Rivington services between junctions 8 and 6 on the M61.

A fire service spokesman said the blaze started when the driver of the lorry, which was pulling a trailer containing 20 tonnes of pet food, heard a bang come from the engine compartment.

He pulled over and saw smoke.

Fire crews have extinguished the blaze and are currently in the process of emptying the lorry's cargo so they can make sure there are no heat sources underneath.

A fire service spokesman said: "When we arrived the fire was well alight.

"We used three appliances to put the fire out

"The fire started in the engine, which we believe had overheated."

The northbound lanes and one soutbound lane were reopened, at about 8.45am.

But the incident has created delays of up to two hours southbound, with the Highways Agency not expecting normal driving conditions to be in place until 4pm.

A clean-up operation on the carriageway has now begun.

The driver escaped the vehicle unhurt, according to a fire service spokesman.

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