UPDATE: A Semi-trailer carrying 3 African elephants caught fire Monday morning on Interstate 24, near mile marker 171 Eastbound. 
Officials say the driver unloaded the trailer as a precaution. All of the the elephants are okay, but they did take first responders by surprise.
    
" This doesn't happen everyday, that was my thought is this really doesn't happen everyday," said Capt. Wadie Suttles, Chattanooga Fire Dept. 

Firefighters were stunned but they had a job to do. The tractor trailer hauling these elephants, unexpectedly caught fire.
Officials say the cab was fully engulfed in flames, forcing the animals out onto the interstate. 
First responders were advised to approach with caution.

" It was just an unfortunate situation for them, but yea everything was okay," said Capt. Suttles. " All of the damage was confined to the cab." 

The 3 elephants were okay and remained calm. Firefighters say they snacked on some hay, while the fire was contained. 
They say they're thankful, these giants were gentle. 
 
" They were pretty lucky that it was nothing greater than an elephant," said Capt. Suttles. " Can you imagine what things would be like if it was a lion?"

Its unclear why the elephants were passing through our area. The owners told firefighters, they often travel to work with children.
We're told those elephants are  now on their way back down to Florida. The cause of the fire is still under investigation. 


UPDATE: Chattanooga firefighters dispatched to a semi fire early Monday morning were surprised to see several elephants standing outside the trailer.

Three African elephants greeted the firefighters when they responded to the fire, which was actually just across the TN/GA state line about 2:00am Monday.

CFD Chief Morgan said the tractor was on fire, but the trailer was not. The owners got the elephants safely out of the trailer and gave them some hay to munch on while firefighters put the fire out.

Morgan said the elephants were "huge," but well behaved. None of the animals were injured. No human injuries were reported either.

Once the fire was extinguished, the owners made some calls to get another tractor to continue their trip to Sarasota, Florida.


PREVIOUS STORY: A tractor-trailer fire is causing delays on I-24 eastbound early Monday morning. 

As of 4:00 a.m., the left lane is blocked at the State Line.

The fire happened after the Wildwood exit in Dade County. Drivers are seeing delays to the junction with I-59. 

Stay with Channel 3 as we continue to learn more.