Elephants stranded on the side of a Chattanooga interstate

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CHATTANOOGA, Tenn.  — Traffic is a given during the holiday season, but it’s rare to find yourself stuck due to elephants on the side of the road.

“One of the crew members, what she relayed to me was ‘nobody’s actually going to believe this.'”

Will Pitt with Puckett EMS said they were en route to the scene of an early morning fire on I-24 when they received an unusual call over the radio.

“Turn off your sirens and lights because we don’t want to spook the elephants.”

That’s right — elephants.

“We run into pretty strange things in this job but elephants on the side of the interstate is definitely a new one.”

A tractor trailer was taking the three female elephants from their Wilstem Ranch home in Indiana to Sarasota, Florida, when it caught on fire near the Georgia-Tennessee state line.

“They were there within 5 minutes,” said the truck driver, George Barreda. “They were able to get the truck totally extinguished before any damage was done to the trailer.”

The cause of the fire is still unknown, but the owners were able to get the elephants out safely. The three ladies just grazed along the side of the interstate until another truck came to pick them up.

“Part of emergency response job is to figure out what’s going on when you get there and figure out the best way to handle it. Sometimes it ends up being something you’ve never seen before,” said Pitt. “And elephants on the side of the interstate definitely fall in the never seen it before category.”