ALERT: Route 17 was expected to remain closed in both directions past 5:30 p.m. Wednesday.
A tractor-trailer driver escaped serious injury Wednesday after his rig hit a fire hydrant and utility pole, then burst into flames at an exit ramp off southbound Route 17 in Paramus.
One of several civilians who stopped gave the driver his coat after the crash at the Ridgewood Avenue exit downed utility lines across the highway -- knocking out power and cable to several area customers -- shortly after 2:30 p.m.
"He's shaken up," the good Samaritan's boyfriend told Daily Voice from the scene. "He doesn't know what happened.
"He had just gotten out of the truck as we came down the exit ramp. We pulled over to see if he was OK."
The driver was carrying fifty 50-pound bags of hydromulch, a mixture of water, fiber mulch, and tackifier whose uses include spraying burned slopes to prevent soil erosion, Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said.
The driver rescuers who led him from the burning wreck that he's diabetic and apparently suffered a medical episode.
Police closed the highway in both directions as an ambulance came north in the southbound lanes.
Firefighters has to wait for a PSE&G crew to cut power before they could fully douse the blaze.
Traffic was being re-routed through the Fashion Center. Ridgewood Avenue remained open.
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