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East Lancashire motorists face chaos in freezing conditions
UPDATED: THE M65 was closed amid chaotic scenes as treacherous weather and freezing rain hit East Lancashire yesterday.
And the Met Office has issued a warning of sub-zero temperatures to continue into the weekend.
Three incidents in a few minutes, including a 10-car pile-up, led to the motorway being closed after black ice formed following a downpour.
Emergency services said the ‘lethal’ road conditions made the road ‘like an ice rink’ and a fire engine skidded 10 feet across the carriageway while responding to one accident.
Temperatures were as low as minus five during the morning and the Met Office said it was unlikely to rise above freezing today.
The motorway was closed from 10am to noon between Nelson and Colne.
There were also a series of accidents at the junction six of the M65 at Whitebirk, as well as 10 separate crashes between junction 33 and 36 of the M6 in north Lancashire.
There was also a smash on the A59 at Samlesbury near the Swallow Hotel junction.
The most serious incident saw the M65 closed for two hours at around 10am after a three-car accident at junction 13 on the westbound carriageway.
The fire service had originally been called to an accident eastbound between Nelson and Colne where two cars slid into crash barriers at 9am and 10 cars were involved in a shunt at junction 14 around the same time.
Police said a large patch of black ice in the outside lane of the eastbound M65 had been identified.
Dave Robinson, watch manager at Nelson Fire Station, said: “The conditions were extremely dangerous.
“It was slippy underfoot and the rain that was falling was turning to ice in a matter of minutes, but it was very difficult to differentiate between ice and water on the road.
“Luckily there were no serious injuries.”
Daniel Herbert, head of public realm for Lancashire County Council, said: “Our gritters treated the M65 between junction 10 and junction 14 in the morning as further snow and icy conditions were forecast.
“However, heavy rain began to fall at around 10am and was turning to ice as soon as it hit the road as it was freezing around the salt.
"This meant the road became very slippery until the grit had a chance to work in to the surface and take effect.
“The road was re-treated after the incidents to try to protect against further problems caused by freezing rain.
"However, it is difficult to prevent ice forming on all areas of the road in this type of weather.”
A police spokesman said: “We had numerous calls in the morning about collisions, but they were just damage-only with no serious injuries.
“We would urge motorists to be aware of the conditions, to drive slowly and beware of any ice on the road.”
A spokesman for the Highways Agency said: “We have been and will be treating the network routinely and regularly right through this cold snap.
“We will be patrolling the network and re-treating roads where necessary, for example in response to rain and freezing rain showers.”
The North West Ambulance Service said it had received a number of calls about collisions in East Lancashire yesterday morning.
Derek Cartwright, director of emergency services, said: “We experienced a higher number of road traffic collisions than normal in East Lancashire and we are urging the public to take extra care whilst out on the roads.”
Pedestrians also struggled to keep their feet yesterday morning. In Nelson the new flags in the town centre were proving particularly treacherous.
Coun Eileen Ansar, a town centre trader, said: “Around five or six people went over this morning, the town centre was like a skating rink.”
Pendle Council gritted the streets after complaints.
Icy conditions also caused havoc in Darwen.
James Balmer, 63, of Redvers Road, was angry that not enough grit had been used in the town.
He said: “I have seen about five or six people falling in and around the town centre. I fell over myself in School Street.”