How did occupants escape this inferno?

A Renault set on fire near to junction 8 of the M61 on Sunday
A Renault set on fire near to junction 8 of the M61 on Sunday

THIS was the dramatic scene when a car caught fire on the M61 near Chorley at the weekend.

Up to 15 firefighters tackled the blaze when Sarah Rainford pulled her Renault 5 onto the hard shoulder near junction 8 at Botany Bay after discovering a problem.

Within minutes of stopping the car, it was a blazing wreck.

Three crews were called to the northbound carriageway at around midday on Sunday and spent around 45 minutes trying to extinguish the vehicle.

25-year-old Ms Rainford was driving and luckily she and her passengers escaped unhurt.

Chorley Fire Station watch manager Malcolm Dewhurst said: “A woman had set off from West Didsbury with two friends on a day out to Blackpool.

“She pulled over onto the hard shoulder after hearing a strange noise and they got out of the vehicle.

“They saw smoke coming from the engine and, soon after, it was well alight.”

Eyewitness Marc Schmid said: “All the traffic was backing up as people were stopping to take a look.

“We passed not long after it happened and fire engines were coming in the other direction.

“It looked like everyone had got out of the car.”

Smoke drifted across both carriageways and Highways Agency Traffic Officers had to close one lane for an hour while the incident was cleared.