A man driving in the wrong direction on westbound Interstate 66 near Manassas slammed head-on into another car yesterday morning and perished in flames as several police officers tried to rescue him, police said.

The driver of the second car was saved when a Virginia trooper and a Prince William County officer pulled him away from his car just before it was destroyed by flames, said Sgt. N.T. Pirkey of the state police.

"It was a very, very bad scene," said Pirkey. "The man hollered, 'I can't move. I can't move.' Within seconds after they dragged him away, the car just burst into flames."

Both westbound lanes and one eastbound lane of I-66 near the Manassas National Battlefield Park were closed from about 4:15 to 7:45 a.m. as firefighters extinguished the fires and police cleared the accident.

Westbound traffic was diverted to Route 29, police said.

Police have identified the driver who died as Jose M. Aldana, 27, of Arlington. Aldana was driving a borrowed 1987 Toyota Tercel, police said.

The other driver, Michael Stewart, 43, of Upper Marlboro, was treated for an ankle fracture at Prince William Hospital and was listed in good condition, a hospital spokeswoman said. Stewart was driving a 1983 Buick to Arkansas to be with his wife and son for Christmas.

"The officer on the scene and the EMTs {emergency medical technicians} on the scene were outstanding," said Stewart, a federal civil service worker.

Police are uncertain if alcohol or drugs were a factor in the accident, said state police spokeswoman Lucy Caldwell. An autopsy probably will be performed, Caldwell said.

No charges will be filed in the accident, she said.

Police said Trooper M.A. Smith first noticed Aldana's car heading the wrong way on westbound I-66 about 4 a.m.

Smith drove in the eastbound lanes parallel to Aldana for nearly a mile, flashing his emergency lights and trying to get Aldana's attention, police said.

The driver did not appear to notice Smith, who called Prince William police for help, according to police.

Smith lost sight of the car, which disappeared for an instant behind a knoll in the median, and heard the crash.

Stewart said he saw lights flash in his direction about 10 seconds before the crash, but thought they came from a car on the other side of the highway.

The front left lights of the cars hit head-on, police said.

The cars came to rest more than 40 yards apart.

Aldana's legs were trapped in the Toyota when Smith and Prince William County Officer Kenneth Werner arrived, police said. Smith, Werner and a passing motorist tried to put out the fire and pull Aldana from the burning Toyota. But they found the driver was stuck and their fire extinguishers did little to stop the flames.

"The fire had progressed to a point to where they couldn't help," Werner said.

The fire blazed so fiercely it eventually melted the license plate and some metal identification numbers off the car, he said. "I hope not to see anything like that again."