NJ Turnpike fire: Driver pronounced dead, lanes closed Wednesday evening
A truck driver has been pronounced dead in the giant tanker fire that shut down the northbound western spur of the New Jersey Turnpike Wednesday afternoon.
The New Jersey State Police announced on their Facebook page shortly after 10 p.m. Wednesday night that a victim who had previously been reported deceased was the tanker driver. The driver apparently lost control of the truck while trying to avoid slowing traffic due to several mattresses and boxsprings in the roadway.
The driver was pronounced dead at the scene, but remains unidentified pending a medical examination.
New Jersey 101.5 is attempting to reach state police for further clarification.
All lanes on the northbound side of the western spur remained closed early in the 7 p.m. hour. Traffic was being rerouted to Exit 15E.
Shortly before 5 p.m., the fire was put out with the assistance of Newark Airport foam trucks.
Sgt. Jeff Flynn said earlier Wednesday a CRV and a tanker collided on the northbound side near exit 16W, causing the tanker to roll over into the right lane and catch fire.
The CRV driver sustained minor injuries, but the tanker driver was unaccounted for at the time, Flynn said.
Other vehicles may have been involved, but the incident remains under investigation, Flynn said.
During and shortly after the fire, large black plumes of smoke could be seen for miles. Traffic on eastbound Route 280 approaching the western spur was at a near standstill. There was heavy rubbernecking on the southbound side of the Turnpike as well.
Other video and images of the fire have been shared over social media:
— Dan Alexander and Patrick Lavery contributed to this report.