Tractor blaze closes road between Haywards Heath and Balcombe
Major traffic congestion was caused during the rush hour yesterday when a tractor and trailer loaded with 25 tonnes of hay caught light in the middle of the road.
The incident happened on Bordehill Lane, on the feeder road that takes traffic between Haywards Heath junction 10a of the M23.
The road was closed for a two mile stretch at 4pm as the rush hour was beginning.
Traffic was turned back from the junction of Haywards Heath Road and Stockcroft Road in Balcombe to the north of the incident and at the junction of Hanlye Lane and Bordehill Lane, just north of Haywards Heath, to the south of the blaze. Drivers had to divert via Cuckfield and on to the B2036, which caused long tailbacks at the junctions.
West Sussex Fire and Rescue Service said four fire engines were used to tackle the blaze including a special appliance carrying compressed air and foam, which was dispatched from Crawley fire station. A water carrier was brought to the site from Burgess Hill.
The blaze is believed to have started accidentally and spread from the tractor engine to the trailer where 25 tonnes of hay bales were packed on the back.
Local farmers tried to move the tractor from the middle of the carriageway where it was stuck but the task was made impossible by the damaged caused to the vehicle and the smouldering hay.
Fire Officer Chris Saunders, from Haywards Heath fire station, said the bales of hay had to be off-loaded from the tractor and ripped apart in order to spread the hay and apply water to it to extinguish any smoldering material and heat which could have caused it to reignite later.
He said: “We reinspected at 11 o’clock last night and again this morning in order to ensure that there was no material that we had missed that was still smoldering.”
The road was still closed at 8pm and was finally reopened sometime later after the highway had been checked for damage.
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Weather for West Sussex
Tuesday 21 May 2013
Temperature: 9 C to 16 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North
Temperature: 6 C to 15 C
Wind Speed: 16 mph
Wind direction: North west