The A12 has partially reopened this evening but drivers have been warned to expect major delays following a fire.

Police were forced to shut the southbound carriageway between junctions 17 (Howe Green) and 19 (Boreham) this afternoon after a mobile crane caught fire.

The closure was put in place from around 1.30pm and the blaze was extinguished by 2.20pm.

Police have since reopened one lane but a major clear up operation is now underway and means the other lane is unlikely to reopen during rush hour.

Highways England says queues are now 7.5 miles long back to Witham and drivers should expect delays of up to 75 minutes.

Station Manger Dan Kirk, who has led the fire services response to the incident, said: “Crews worked in hot conditions to get this fire extinguished quickly and when they arrived, were presented with a large amount of what we believe is hydraulic fluid which presents an environmental risk.

“As well as protecting lives and property, we also work to protect the environment.

“We’ve been working to prevent this fluid entering the drains and a nearby fishing lake as well as the River Chelmer.

“Using our Environmental Protection Unit from Maldon, firefighters have been using specialist pumps to lift the fluid from the roadway and into an area where it can later be cleared by partners while making small dams to prevent the liquid from entering nearby water sources.

"Thank you to all the drivers who have been held up for your patience while we deal with this incident with our partners."