EAST BRUNSWICK, N.J. (CBSNewYork/AP) — A section of the New Jersey Turnpike reopened hours after a fiery crash involving two tractor-trailers in central New Jersey.
Traffic was allowed back on the northbound truck lanes between Interchanges 6 and 9 around 6:30 a.m. Thursday after crews finished cleaning up from Wednesday night’s crash. Vehicles were diverted onto the car lanes.
State Police say the crash occurred just before 8 p.m. Wednesday near Interchange 9 in East Brunswick.
One truck caught fire and there was an explosion. The massive fireball sent up plumes of smoke that could be seen for miles.
Panicked drivers captured cell phone video of the burning wreckage. One clip showed a car appearing to pass right next to the truck fire.
Video from a distance showed sparks flying and plumes of black smoke wafting into the air.
Thursday morning, charred debris could be seen in the yards of people whose backyards back up to the highway. Many residents had an up-close view of the crash, at first not realizing what was happening.
“We heard the screech of the truck before they collided and then smoke and then explosion after explosion,” resident Jen Puritz told CBS2’s Janelle Burrell. “It was pretty scary. We didn’t know when it was going to stop or how it was going to spread.”
“It was so strong the house was shaking, the doors — you could feel the vibration,” said resident Hansford Kilkenny.
One truck driver, Dale Miller, was at St. Barnabas Medical Center in Livingston, New Jersey in serious condition late Thursday afternoon. He was rescued by a group of visitors from Australia who saw him running from his truck with his pants on fire.
The other trucker was reported to have suffered minor injuries.
This is the second time officials were forced to close a section of the turnpike in a week.
A dump truck overturned on the turnpike and burst into flames beneath an underpass in Linden on Aug. 4, killing the driver.
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