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M1 lane reopens following blaze

One northbound lane of the M1 has been reopened after the motorway was closed following a fire.

The section of the motorway between junctions one and four had been closed since shortly after 4am on Friday, following a fire in a scrapyard beneath the road between the M25 and North Circular Road in north London.

A Highways Agency spokesman said the other lanes would remain closed until further investigation, and are unlikely to be reopened tonight.

The incident forced a change of route for many leaving London for an Easter holiday, football fans heading to Wembley and those travelling to the capital for the London Marathon.

The spokesman warned that significant delays would be caused if all drivers going north - including Manchester United and Manchester City supporters heading home after their FA Cup semi-final - attempted to use the single lane which was reopened at 6.40pm.

Around 40 firefighters tackled the blaze, which broke out close to Scratchwood Services and Ellesmere Avenue in Mill Hill.

A number of gas cylinders were involved and a hazard zone was set up in case they exploded in the heat, London Fire Brigade said.

About 50 people living in properties near the scrapyard were temporarily evacuated as a precaution while the cylinders, some of which were acetylene, were cooled and made safe. Train lines close to the scene were also shut down.

Highways Agency engineers were given access to the site of the fire underneath the motorway and continue to assess the extent of the damage.

According to AA Roadwatch the motorway closure led to congestion on the A1, A40 and A406 as motorists took alternative routes, but the Highways Agency said there were no excessive delays in the vicinity of the shutdown.

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