UNION, NJ – Route 78 Westbound was closed to all traffic for a time Sunday afternoon due to a fiery, multi vehicle crash involving tractor trailers, a box truck and passenger vehicles.
According to Union Fire Chief Mike Scanio, upon arrival at about 2:30 Sunday afternoon firefighters found that multiple passenger vehicles, two tractor trailers and a box truck had collided. One passenger vehicle was fully engulfed in the local lanes just prior to the Vauxhall Road overpass.
Scanio said one tractor trailer came to rest up against the median just past the Vauxhall Road bridge in the express lanes. The trailer was on its side and the cab completely destroyed. About a thousand feet down the highway, an oversized load tractor trailer and a box truck came to rest in the grass on the right shoulder, causing a large brush fire. The fire extended over the fence through to the Target parking lot. Scanio said the Fire Department quickly extinguished all the fires and rendered care to the injured.
Scanio said the fire department ambulance transported one patient to Overlook Hospital for basic life support. EMU transported two advanced life support patients and two basic life support patients to Morristown Medical Center.
Both tractor trailers ruptured their fuel tanks spilling approximately 200 gallons of diesel across the highway, Scanio said. The Union county HazMat unit, the Department of Environmental Protection, and a private cleanup contractor contained and cleaned up the fuel spill. The Fire Department stood by while the tow company used heavy machinery to remove all the vehicles. Scanio said the cleanup took about six hours. All but one lane remained closed throughout the cleanup. The state Department of Transportation was requested to inspect the Vauxhall Road bridge, as one of the trucks hit the bridge structure causing damage to the columns. The bridge was deemed structurally sound.
The Cranford, Elizabeth and Roselle Park Fire Departments covered the town while Union personnel worked on the highway.