A quick-thinking motorist managed to pull his car into the hard shoulder of a busy motorway and leap to safety just seconds before the vehicle was engulfed in flames.
The incident occurred at around 4.00pm yesterday at junction 9 (J9) where the N18 changes to the M18 at Drumline near Shannon in Co Clare.
The driver and sole occupant of the car was travelling north towards Ennis and had just passed the turn-off for Shannon when he noticed smoke and flames coming from the front of the vehicle.
The man pulled his vehicle in off the motorway and brought it to a safe stop in the hard shoulder. He jumped from the vehicle and quickly raised the alarm.
Three units of the fire brigade from nearby Shannon Town were sent to the scene along with an ambulance from Limerick and local gardaí.
Fire crews were initially told the incident was at junction 10 (J10) near Newmarket of Fergus. However, while making their way to the scene via the N19 link road, fire personnel spotted smoke close to the flyover at Drumline and rerouted to the scene before they got onto the motorway.
Fire brigade personnel set about ‘fending off’ the area by placing vehicles some distance back from the accident scene to warn approaching motorists.
Gardaí opted to divert traffic up the off-ramp and over the interchange so that emergency crews could safely deal with the incident. As the fire occurred almost beneath the Drumline interchange, only a 700m section of the motorway had to be closed.
There were however some tailbacks on N19 dual-carriage that links Shannon with the M18 as workers travelling home from work were held up by traffic that had been diverted to avoid the scene.
The motorway was reopened shortly after 5.00pm once the car had been removed from the scene and National Roads Authority (NRA) motorway maintenance staff had cleared the road of debris and assessed damage to the road surface.
The driver was uninjured but was said to have been left shaken by the incident. The fire is understood to have been caused by an electrical fault in the vehicle.