The driver of a gas tanker whose vehicle caught fire on the M56 this afternoon, escaped with no injuries, say police.
Despite onlookers describing the blaze as being like a 'giant bunsen burner', the driver managed to avoid being hurt after pulling onto the hard shoulder and exiting the burning propane Calor gas tanker.
The fire, which happened just after 3pm today has caused serious delays on the M56, as police were forced to close junctions 12-14 at Hapsford.
People living in Helsby, Elton and Hapsford have been warned to keep their doors and windows closed in the aftermath of the fire and Cheshire police have also advised residents in those areas to stay on the side of the house away from the motorway.
Motorists are strongly advised to avoid the M56 altogether as traffic currently sits at a standstill because of the disruption.
All emergency services are on the scene and a Cheshire Fire and Rescue spokesperson confirmed the motorway has been shut as they deal with the fire. A cordon of 1000 metres has been set up and some motorists have been evacuated from their vehicles and moved to a safe distance.
People living in Helsby are also advised to stay indoors and keep their doors and windows closed.
Cheshire Fire and Rescue said trains have been stopped on both the Manchester to Chester and Ellesmere Port to Helsby lines, while air traffic control have been advised of the incident to make sure that air traffic is stopped over the area.
A statement from Arriva Trains Wales said travel disruption is expected until 7pm tonight.
"Train services running through this station may be cancelled, delayed or diverted, " the spokesperson said. "Northern Rail are conveying passengers between Manchester Piccadilly and Chester in both directions until further notice.
"Arrangements have been made for Arriva Trains Wales rail tickets to be accepted for these journeys. Northern Rail are conveying passengers between Manchester Piccadilly and Crewe in both directions until further notice.
"Arrangements have been made for Arriva Trains Wales rail tickets to be accepted for these journeys.
Northern Rail are conveying passengers between Earlestown and Manchester Piccadilly in both directions until further notice. Arrangements have been made for Arriva Trains Wales rail tickets to be accepted for these journeys."
North West Motorway Police tweeted: "M56 J14 Hapsford is closed in both directions. This is a police incident and is likely to last for at least 1 hour. Avoid the M56 if possible."
Frustrated drivers have been tweeting from their stationary vehicles and some have even left their cars as their cars to play football as traffic remains at a standstill.
A spokesperson for Highways England said the closures were likely to last for several hours with a diversion is in place, but drivers are being asked to allow extra time for their journeys and find alternative routes.
Traffic officers are supporting the emergency services at the scene and overhead message signs are being used to warn drivers of the closure.