MELVILLE, NY --- A fuel truck flipped and burst into flames on New York's Long Island Expressway on Saturday morning, Jan. 23, killing the driver and shutting down the highway in both directions for hours. 

The truck driver, 57-year-old Mujahid Shah of Brooklyn, died in the collision, police told the Associated Press. The truck he was driving for Kittery Transport was carrying about 1,500 gallons of gasoline. Kittery Transport is a small trucking firm based in Maine. 

The crash occurred as the tanker driver tried to pass a slow-moving car that was apparently having mechanical problems. The driver of the small car was attempting to move to the shoulder of the highway when the tanker started to veer around it. The two vehicles collided and the truck lost control, AP reported. 

The fireball created by the collision was visible for miles, the Washington Post reported. The resulting heat melted the supports for a huge road sign, causing the sign's collapse across all eight lanes of the roadway. 

Emergency crews battled the fire for three hours after the 8 a.m. crash, which occurred between Melville and Plainview near the Nassau County line. 

Westbound lanes were reopened at about 6:15 p.m. But the eastbound lanes remained closed Saturday night so that workers could repave about 200 feet of road that had been damaged.