A SEVERE lorry fire trapped hundreds of people on the M62 - and one driver stuck in the huge tailbacks for around five hours lapsed into a coma.
The lorry loaded with steel caught fire on the westbound carriageway close to Stott Hall Farm at Scammonden just after 6.30pm yesterday, causing traffic jams for hours.
The Greater Manchester man in a coma was taken to Huddersfield Royal Infirmary for treatment after the alarm was raised when a relief fire crew going to the scene was flagged down.
The blaze had started when a front wheel caught fire on the lorry, possibly due to a brake sticking on.
The driver and a passing motorist tried to fight the blaze with fire extinguishers, but were unable to douse it.
The driver attempted to unhook his cab from the trailer packed with 32 tonnes of steel, but wind whipped the flames and he had to flee as fire engulfed the entire vehicle .
Traffic was halted as firefighters from Huddersfield, Slaithwaite, Elland, Brighouse and two crews from Greater Manchester raced to the scene.
Watch manager Dave Rawnsley, of Huddersfield fire station, said: "The entire lorry was on fire and we faced a dangerous stuation. The intense heat meant the tyres were exploding and five flew off the back axle .
"One careered into the central reservation and another ended up in the middle of the motorway.
"The fire was so intense it melted the fuel tank and we also faced a running diesel fire down the carriageway.
"It was one of the worst lorry fires we have ever had to attend. All we saved from the lorry was the front number plate!"
The main problem was getting water to the scene.
Fire engines carry around 250 gallons and three fire engines spent several hours shuttling water to the scene from a hydrant at Outlane.
In the end they used 4,500 gallons to fully douse the blaze.
Traffic was jammed on the westbound carriageway and vehicles were taken off at Ainley Top to follow a diversion through Ripponden.
But those between the junction and the incident were stuck for hours.
It was at 11.30pm that a fire crew from Huddersfield was going to relieve those at the scene when it was flagged down by a woman near Scammonden Dam.
They found the 53-year-old man had lapsed into a coma.
Watch manager Simon Dennett said: "He had taken enough medication for the journey, but because of the severe delays he was stuck in the traffic and the medication must have worn off."
A crane had to be called in to shift the smouldering remains of the lorry.
But the fire had been so intense it had melted the road surface.
One lane and the hard shoulder remained closed this morning while emergency repairs were carried out.