THE M4 Prince of Wales Bridge has been closed since earlier this afternoon after a lorry burst into flames midway across the span.

The incident occurred westbound between J22 M49 to J23 M48.

Traffic was stopped on the bridge and large plumes of smoke could be seen billowing from the lorry - around halfway across the bridge.

Motorists immediately behind the fire-stricken lorry had to wait in their vehicles in the hot afternoon sun for more than five hours - at time of writing.

The majority of traffic was diverted across the M48 Severn Bridge.

This, in turn, resulted in extremely heavy congestion on the M4 - stretching back to the M32 in Bristol - and surrounding roads.

Avon Fire and Rescue Service confirmed that the lorry had been carrying around 24 pallets of wine when it burst into flames.

They also said that no injuries had been reported as a result of the incident.

The Argus has seen pictures of what appears to be fire damage to the safety barriers and the coating of the bridge cables near the site of the fire.

However, this is unconfirmed at this time.

The fire was eventually extinguished shortly before 7pm. However, the road remains closed at time of writing.

Due to the extreme congestion, National Highways made the decision to postpone planned repair work on the M48 Severn Bridge.

The work, which would have resulted in the closure of the older bridge, was rescheduled for a time when the M4 Prince of Wales Bridge was reopened.

We will bring you further updates on this incident first thing in the morning and throughout tomorrow.