They said eight houses were razed following the accident which happened around 8:00 am (0700GMT) in the transit town of Tegina in Niger state.
“We buried 14 people including a six-month-old baby who died in the tanker explosion this morning,” said Muhammad Sani who took part in the rescue operation.
Eight more victims were taken to hospital with burns, two of them in “very critical condition” while eight homes were burnt in the inferno, said another resident Abdullahi Egiworo.
A spokesman for Federal Road Safety Corps (FRSC) in the state confirmed the accident, but refused to give casualty figures.
“We received reports of an accident involving a petrol tanker in Tegina this morning but we are still awaiting details,” Bitrus Max told AFP.
He said emergency officials were heading to the scene to assist in the evacuation of victims.
Accidents involving petrol tankers happen frequently on Nigeria’s poorly maintained roads because of speeding and disregard for traffic rules.
Last month, three people were killed when a petrol tanker collided with a trailer and exploded on a road linking Nigeria’s commercial hub of Lagos with the rest of the country.