A 62-year-old driver was killed in a fast-moving blaze after his SUV went up in flames as he attempted to remove it from a snowbank, police said.
The incident occurred in Little Ferry, New Jersey just after 9 a.m. on Wednesday, when the man's Mazda SUV became trapped in a small embankment in an unplowed soccer field parking lot, Capt. Ronald Klein confirms to PEOPLE.
Officers with the Little Ferry Police Department responded to the scene near Losen Slote Creek Park following a call from a Department of Public Works employee in the town, which sits about 10 miles northwest of New York City.
"The car was at a slight angle, and it was front-wheel drive, so he really wasn't getting any traction on the rear wheels," Klein says. "He was rocking the car back and forth, just trying to get it unstuck and out of the snow."
Upon arrival, two officers made unsuccessful attempts to talk to the man, and eventually began walking away to call him a tow truck, Klein says. As they did, one of the officers heard a popping sound, and the car was soon engulfed in flames.
They returned with a fire extinguisher to quell the flames and rescue the man, and were ultimately able to break a rear passenger window, according to authorities.
"At that point, the flames had literally taken over the entire car. It went up extremely fast," says Klein. "They just could not get to him at that point. The whole thing from start to finish was maybe three minutes."
The man's identity has not yet been released, though Klein says his next of kin has been notified. The police department and the Bergen County Prosecutor's Office will investigate.
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