A fatal fire on I-78 near the Garden State Parkway (@ShaneOBrienOO via Twitter)

A fiery crash involving two trucks and a car on Interstate 78 has left one person dead and closed the highway for hours.

Tanker fire on I-78 at the Garden State Parkway (@NJerzyFireAlert via Twitter)

The early afternoon crash forced the closure of I-78 for several hours in both directions approaching the intersection with the Garden State Parkway.

State Police Sergeant Gregory Williams tells NJ.com that James Pinaire, 24, of Chatham was driving an Audi and entering westbound I-78 from the Garden State Parkway when he drove in the path of a fuel tanker. Williams says both vehicles then hit a tractor trailer hauling a load of mulch. The  tanker truck, according to New Jersey Fast Traffic, was carrying 9,000 gallons of fuel.

According to video posted on NJ.com, the driver of the truck, Balwinder Singh of Valley Stream, New York,  scrambled out the windshield and was hospitalized in critical condition.  The tractor trailer driver was treated and released from the hospital.

Drivers were stuck in the delay for hours as police let traffic through in a single lane reports NJ.com.  NBC's Nancy Snyderman tweeted that the pilot of a United flight she was catching out of Newark on Saturday afternoon was stuck in the I-78 delay.

The closure also caused delays on Route 22 as drivers used it as an alternative. However, the heavy rain flooded out lanes causing more delays.

The westbound side remained closed until late Saturday night according to New Jersey Fast Traffic.




The Associated Press contributed to this report