M1 reopened after fatal truck crash, explosion

The M1 has been reopened after a fiery truck crash left one man dead and another injured at Cooranbong on Monday afternoon.

Emergency services were called to the south-bound lanes of the motorway about 12.50pm to reports three trucks had collided, creating a large explosion, police said.

One of the trucks was carrying ethanol, which fed the fire. It took at least eight Fire and Rescue NSW crews more than four hours to battle the blaze.

On Monday NSW Police Chief Inspector Darren Cox from the Lake Macquarie Local Area Command said one truck hit the back of a parked truck, and a third truck and a car then also crashed.

The driver of one of the trucks died at the scene, and by early Tuesday morning was yet to be formally identified.

The driver of the car was taken to Wyong Hospital with minor burns, and the two other truck drivers were taken for mandatory testing.

Superintendent Greg Windeatt from Fire and Rescue NSW said the rear compartment of the ethanol truck “breached” and caught fire, which then spread to the middle compartment.

All three trucks and the car involved in the crash were set alight. Just before 5pm, all had been extinguished except the ethanol truck, which continued to burn.

The fire spread to the bush on both sides of the freeway, and the M1 was closed in both directions between Palmers Road and Motorway Link Road for an extended period.

Crews from NSW Rural Fire Service including a helicopter fought the bushfire, which burned 15 hectares of bushland.

The crash caused major delays on the M1, with traffic queued for kilometres in each direction on Monday afternoon leading to delays of up to an hour and 40 minutes.

Crash investigators examined the scene on Monday evening, and will investigate the circumstances around the crash.

– with Dan Proudman, Newcastle Herald