TWO removal lorry drivers have said they are “lucky to be alive” after the 40ft lorry they were driving burst into flames, destroying a family’s worldly possessions.

Smoke started to fill the cab of the Britannia Caledonian removals lorry, but fortunately driver Alan Cameron, 40, managed to pull the vehicle over in time before it was engulfed in 30ft flames.

He said: “I feel very lucky to be alive. It was about a minute between seeing the smoke, to us stopping and then the whole thing going up in flames.

“It is terrifying because if we had driven another 100m we would have been right next to a petrol station. I don’t even want to think about what could have happened.”

Four fire crews were alerted to the incident at 10.15am which occurred just off the A31 Lake Gates Roundabout.

The A31 reopened around 7pm last night between the Coventry Arms and the Candys Lane junction for clear-up and highway inspection.

Both closures meant had to find alternative routes through Corfe Mullen.

The lorry is understood to have been travelling from Glasgow to the Weymouth area carrying what police said were “hazardous canisters”.

Dorset station manager Julian Lockwood said: “The two drivers saw flames were licking at their feet so they pulled over as quickly as possible.

“The fire crew from Wimborne attended in five minutes and in that time a 30ft flame had reached up to the street light and the flames were engulfing the whole cab.

“It's terribly sad because a family's worldly belongings have been lost in that van.”

Firefighters managed to salvage around 30 per cent of the family’s possessions.

Both drivers were unhurt, but they were treated for smoke inhalation at the scene according to a spokesperson from South Western Ambulance Service.

The other driver Derek Pickles, 31, said: “It was all just such a shock because it all happened so quickly. We are lucky to have escaped with our lives.”

A spokesperson from the Highways Agency said: “The street lamp will have to be replaced. But it looks like the road will not have to be resurfaced.”