The fire surprised veteran officers.
"I have been an officer for 17 years -- I don't think I have had as many vehicles on fire at one point," said Officer Chris Miceli of the California Highway Patrol.
He says it started with one car that hit the center divider.
"The first vehicle was a station wagon, unknown make and model. The vehicle was completely burned and so it'll take some time to figure out the make and model of the car," the officer said.
The driver of that car died. Investigators have not been able to identify the driver and at this point don't know why he crashed. The second car to come along was a Ford Fusion. It hit the original car and landed on its roof in the middle of the highway. The next cars to come onto the scene and crash were a Toyota Yaris, a Toyota Tacoma and then a Subaru.
"We have two people who were injured, the driver of the Ford Fusion was transported for minor injuries, a male, and the driver of the Subaru WRX, a male party, he was also injured and transported for minor injuries," Officer Miceli said.
The back-up stretched for miles -- all but one lane was closed for almost five hours. They reopened all lanes a little after 8 a.m.
Investigators are asking any witnesses who can help them piece together what happened to give them a call. The CHP office in Gilroy is handling the investigation.
What the scene looks like right now on northbound 101 in San Jose at the scene of a four car fiery fatal crash. pic.twitter.com/ct53pw0piV— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) August 8, 2019
A fiery crash in South San Jose killed one person and hurt two others. All but one lane is closed. This is Northbound 101 north of Bailey Avenue and south of highway 85. pic.twitter.com/AaG5kTaIA7— Amy Hollyfield (@amyhollyfield) August 8, 2019