Thursday, April 18, 2019

FOOLISH drivers stopping to take pictures of a terrifying truck blaze near Portlaoise have been rebuked as “very dangerous and irresponsible” by Laois fire service.

Despite towering flames and billowing black smoke that could be seen for miles, motorists pulled in on the M7 motorway to take photographs for social media.

Their actions at the scene of the fire near the Gandon Inn on Saturday night was strongly condemned by the fire service, who said their behaviour caused “several near misses” and could have led to a serious crash.

Soon after bringing the blaze under control, Laois fire and rescue service sent out a tweet at 8.41pm on Saturday highlighting the recklessness of some drivers. The tweet said: “Several near misses occurred during the fire with cars slowing and stopping in the far carriageway of the motorway to take pictures. Very dangerous, irresponsible behaviour.”

A fire service spokesman warned people never to stop at the scene of an emergency, as they could endanger others and impede the work of rescue services. At least six vehicles pulled up in the opposite carriageway to take pictures while firefighters were battling the flames, forcing cars behind them to take evasive action. Photographs taken at the height of the blaze were posted from the scene and widely shared on social media. The spokesman said: “If one of the cars stopping to take pictures had ended up in a pile-up in the other carriageway, it would have been a very serious situation.”

Emergency services rushed to the scene at around 7pm, after an articulated truck carrying plastic sheeting caught fire on the hard shoulder of the M7 near the Gandon Inn, between exit 14 Ballybrittas and exit 15 Monasterevin on the Dublin-bound carriageway. The motorway eastbound was closed for some hours as fire crews from Portlaoise, Stradbally and Monasterevin doused the blazing truck with foam to extinguish the massive blaze. Gardaí and Transport Infrastructure Ireland personnel also attended the incident.

Gardaí diverted traffic at junction 15 Ballybrittas onto the old Dublin Road and there were long tailbacks into Monasterevin during the road closure.

Fortunately, the truck driver was not injured in the blaze. The scene was preserved for a technical examination and gardaí are carrying out an investigation into the cause of the fire.

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By Carmel Hayes
Contact Newsdesk: +353 57 86 70216

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