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Blackwall Tunnel northbound still closed after Sunday car blaze

PUBLISHED: 12:04 30 November 2009 | UPDATED: 15:18 05 October 2010

OFF-duty firefighters dashed to the rescue when a blaze broke out in the Blackwall Tunnel trapping more than 100 motorists.

The firefighters were heading into East London to go on shift, all travelling separately, when a car ahead burst into flame

By Mike Brooke

OFF-duty firefighters dashed to the rescue when a blaze broke out in the Blackwall Tunnel trapping more than 100 motorists.

The firefighters were heading into East London to go on shift, all travelling separately, when a car ahead burst into flame yesterday afternoon.

One of the firefighters was Tom Dennington, 29, making for Shadwell fire-station, who later told the East London Advertiser: "It was a bit of a panic. The traffic stopped, then people who had abandoned their cars ran back passed me to get out.

"I grabbed a fire extinguisher from the tunnel wall and headed for the blaze.

"But there was too much smoke and the heat was intense. I couldn't get near.

"Without breathing apparatus you'd be overcome in a minute."

Tom and Fire Brigade colleague Mack Cook, the watch manager at Millwall, and two others evacuated many of the trapped motorists and kept people back from the blazing car.

Extractor fans on the tunnel roof managed to draw the toxic smoke away from the trapped motorists towards the north exit.

The car which caught light was totally burned out by the time a fire crew arrived from Poplar minutes later.

Police then had the task of locating the evacuated drivers on the south side to return to their vehicles once the danger had past to begin clearing the tunnel, with a 10-mile jam building up as far back as Dartford at one point.

Blackwall Tunnel is still closed today and is not likely to reopen until Wednesday at the earliest.

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