Published Thursday, 07 February 2013
The lorry burst into flames on the M1 close to Lurgan. (© UTV)
The vehicle caught fire as it travelled along the M1 between Lurgan and Moira just after 6.30pm on Wednesday.
The Northern Ireland Fire and Rescue Service said the driver had a "lucky escape" as he managed to pull over to the hard shoulder at the main Lurgan turn-off before flames engulfed the double-height articulated lorry travelling towards Belfast.
It is understood the driver only became aware of the blaze when it was well-established.
Firefighters say an overheated braking unit caused the blaze which then spread to the trailer.
The lorry was carrying flat pack furniture, as well as several hundred gallons of fuel.
Its suspension units collapsed.
Motorists sat in three to four mile tailbacks on Thursday morning, when the eastbound carriageway between junctions 9 and 10 was reduced to one lane from 5.30am to 9.30am.
Both lanes were then closed at junction 10 as an operation to move the lorry off the road got underway.
The Roads Service said the lanes were also closed to allow debris to be cleared from the carriageway.
The recovery operation took several hours.
"The east bound carriageway of the M1 has now re-opened between J10 Lurgan and J9 Moira," a Roads Service spokesperson said.
"However, a further overnight closure of this section will commence at 9pm tonight until 6am tomorrow to allow for the permanent repair of the damaged carriageway and safety fence.
"A signed diversion for eastbound traffic via Lurgan and Moira will be in operation."
The westbound carriageway remained open on Thursday.
The motorway was closed in both directions until the early hours of Thursday morning after the incident as firefighters brought the blaze, which burned for almost seven hours, under control.
Three fire appliances and an aerial unit attended the scene.
© UTV News