The car and tanker crashed at the intersection of Bayway Avenue in Elizabeth just before 1:45 a.m. in a thunderous explosion that woke nearby residents.
The tanker was carrying 8,000 gallons of fuel at the time of the accident. The other vehicle became wedged under the burning tanker, trapping the driver by the fireball.
The driver of the car was pronounced dead at the scene. That person has not been identified. The tanker driver escaped his burning truck without serious injury.
Firefighters closed off the busy Bayway Circle, a main route to the Goethals Bridge, as they battled the flames with foam trucks.
"The car was traveling northbound on Route 1 and 9, and the truck was going across," eyewitness Mike Herrera said. "So I guess the car went through the light as the truck was going around the circle, and went right underneath. Boom."
It was unclear which driver had the right of way, though residents in the area believe illegal street racing may have been to blame.
Routes 1 and 9 had reopened Tuesday evening but the northbound left and center lanes are blocked and southbound left lane is also blocked.
In order to maintain overall safety, the Elizabeth Fire Department is flushing out storm sewers from North to South along Route 1 and 9. Although no readings have registered, monitoring will continue by the Union County Bureau of Hazardous Materials and the Department of Environmental Protection.
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