UPDATE, Thursday, January 12 6:45AM:
The Loxford fire has been downgraded to advice level.
The grass fire is under control.
The Expressway has re-opened and traffic has eased.
Smoke remains an issue in the area, with authorities reminding drivers to slow down as emergency services continue to extinguish the fire.
All eastbound lanes of the Hunter Expressway are again closed.
A westbound lane is also shut.
Eastbound traffic already past the Wine Country Drive exit is being turned around.
Conditions continue to change quickly, so drivers are urged to exercise caution.
One westbound lane and all eastbound lanes have reopened on the Hunter Expressway.
A westbound lane remains shut near Hart Road.
Motorists have been warned to allow extra travel time and expect delays due to traffic build-up in the area during the preceding closures.
“Motorists are also advised to follow the directions of traffic controllers and emergency services at the scene as conditions can change quickly,” the Transport Management Centre said in a statement.
“Exercise caution as well, as smoke may affect visibility.”
The Loxford fire near Harts Road remains out of control. The NSW Rural Fire Service reports it has burnt through about 14 hectares.
Motorists are urged to use the New England Highway after fire forced authorities to shut the Hunter Expressway.
The NSW Transport Management Centre confirmed the highway was shut in both directions shortly after 5pm.
Westbound motorists on the Expressway are being pushed through Main Road.
Eastbound drivers are being forced back the way they came.
“Traffic on the Expressway is heavy, so motorists are advised to allow extra travel time,” the Centre said.
The fire is hindering the Expressway near Hart Road, but traffic conditions are heavy.
Crews are now working at McLeod Road after the fire jumped the railway line.
RFS crews are working to control the fire while Fire and Rescue crews are watching properties at McLeod Road and are preparing to protect them.
RESIDENTS in the Loxford area are being warned of an “out of control” bushfire near the Hunter Expressway.
The Rural Fire Service has heightened the alert level for the five-hectare grass fire, which broke out shortly after 2pm.
Firefighters are on the scene near the Hart Road exit of the Hunter Expressway.
One RFS firefighter was injured while responding to the blaze and is being treated by paramedics.
There were no reported delays to traffic.
More to come.