BERNARDS — A landscaping truck servicing a Basking Ridge property burst into flames Wednesday evening, leaving rush-hour traffic backed up on Deer Ridge Road.

The 911 call reporting the fire was placed at 4:10 p.m., according to Liberty Corner Fire Chief Carl Blanchard. Within 30 minutes, first responders arrived, extinguishing the blaze.

“When I arrived, the bed and interior of the truck were both on fire," Blanchard said.

Carlos Ovelar, owner of Green Valley Landscaping and the incinerated truck, said that he and his workers were returning to the Basking Ridge residence to finish a gardening job. While parked on the street, a fire started in the back of the vehicle and quickly spread to two containers of gasoline stored in the bed of the truck, causing them to explode.

“I just jumped up and ran away,” Ovelar said.

The fire burned for approximately 50 minutes, causing the tires and paint of the truck to melt, and destroying a small lawnmower.

Blanchard attributes the fire to a piece of equipment in the back of the landscaping truck.

Ovelar said there was a spare lawnmower battery in the back of the vehicle.

“Maybe the battery scraped something and generated a spark,” Ovelar said.

John Philip Kalajian is a freelance journalist in New Jersey.

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