UPDATE: A trailer loaded with paper towels caught fire on Route 17 in Paramus before dawn this morning, shutting down the northbound highway for nearly three hours and clogging traffic on both sides well past the morning rush.
Witnesses reported a utility pole also ablaze in the 5 a.m. incident between Powers Drive and Midland Avenue.
The northbound highway was closed from there to Century Road before the left lane was opened around 7:45 a.m. The entire roadway was finally reopened at 1:35 p.m.
Paramus police and firefighters responded and a backhoe was brought in to remove the paper towels, some of which were strewn across the highway.
Police Chief Kenneth Ehrenberg said the 1999 Volvo tractor is owwed by Alex Guadamur of Clifton and the trailer by AA & EL Transport of Jersey City.
The fire was sparked by a mechanical failure in the rear wheel, he said.
PHOTO: Courtesy TINA HARNETT