Fuel tanker bursts into flames on Australian highway

A tanker transporting 36,000 litres of petrol burst into flames as it entered a highway outside Wollongong in New South Wales, Australia on Friday.

It took 100 firefighters hours to bring a roadside inferno under control after a 2km exclusion zone was established to protect the public.

About 20 emergency crews joined forces to douse the blaze with foam, a Fire and Rescue New South Wales spokeswoman said.

The 44-year-old male driver was able to escape unharmed as homes around the fire were evacuated.

Firefighters by midday had achieved a "significant fire knockdown", New South Wales Fire and Rescue posted on Twitter, adding that "hazmat crews are still monitoring any fuel run off and containing fuel."

Acting superintendent, Kevin McNeil, said it was potentially a "very dangerous situation" on a major roadway busy with school holiday traffic.

"A fuel tanker full of fuel could have caused extreme damage," he told the press in Wollongong.

The fire appears to have started in the truck's cabin but it is unlikely the driver will be charged, McNeil added.

"We're investigating the matter at the moment but it is unlikely anything the driver has done has caused this fire."