A Sparta police officer escaped injury when a truck fully engulfed in fire rolled backward and nearly hit a police cruiser Friday.

Sparta Police said that the truck, owned by Gula Snacks of Landing, caught on fire on the southbound side of Route 15 on Friday around noon. As officers walked driver Jairo Simbaqueba, 34, and passenger Romero Gonzalo, 57 along the highway away from the truck, the fire intensified and another responding officer, Sgt. Joseph Pensado, noticed the truck begin to roll backward toward his parked cruiser, according to police.

Pensado tried to move his cruiser but was overcome by the fire's thick black smoke and tried to run to safety, according to police.  He had to dive to avoid being hit by the truck which veered into the roadway, missing the cruiser, and was stopped by a guardrail. Pensado suffered a severely bruised right shoulder and injured his left knee. He is not expected to be on active duty for several weeks.

Sparta Police Lt. John Paul Beebe told the New Jersey Herald the truck had suffered a mechanical failure and was disabled on the shoulder.

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