Police say due to the resurfacing of the road and the severity of the incidents between junction 36 and 34 on the southbound carriageway, motorists will face delays until the early hours of tomorrow morning.
Currently two lanes are open and running north past the scene, although this incident coupled with ongoing roadworks between junctions 32 and 34 means severe delays are to be expected well into the afternoon. The first incident occurred at around 4am and led to approximately 300 litres of diesel leaking onto the road surface at junction 34 when a lorry struck the central reservation, rupturing its fuel tank. The lorry has been removed from the scene but the road requires resurfacing due to the diesel leak.
The second collision happened just after 6am, close to junction 35 at Carnforth, and involved three lorries. This incident also led to a large diesel spillage and the road will need to be resurfaced once the police investigation has been completed.
Emergency services also closed the northbound carriageway at the time to allow the North West Air Ambulance to pick up on serious casualty.
Fire crews from Preston and Chorley brought in specialist equipment to help colleagues from Lancaster and Morecambe free one of the lorry drivers from the wreckage of his vehicle.
He was stabilised by paramedics at the scene before being airlifted to the major trauma centre at the Royal Preston Hospital. The man remains in hospital with serious injuries, say police.
Another driver was taken to the Royal Lancaster Infirmary, suffering less serious injuries.
“The carriageway could need lengthy resurfacing work,” said a spokesman. “At this stage we do not know how long that is likely to take, but it isn’t going to be a quick fix.”
Chris Chadwick, Emergency Planning Officer at Highways England, said: “These two incidents have led to large amounts of diesel being spilled onto the southbound carriageway so we need to clean this up and resurface the road before we can safely reopen the motorway. We’re got a diversion in place between junctions 36 and 34, but there are currently long delays so we’re advising drivers to avoid the area if at all possible.”
Chief Inspector Damian Kitchen, of the Lancashire Roads Policing Unit, said: “This is a serious incident which has understandably had a knock-on effect on traffic in the surrounding and wider areas.
“We would advise motorists to avoid the areas affected and to only make essential journeys or to find alternative routes.
“We thank the public for their patience whilst Highways England and the police deal with this incident.”
Drivers already on the M6 are being asked to leave the motorway at junction 36 and follow black diamond symbols on diversion signs, before re-joining the M6 at junction 34.
More details as they come in.