30 horses die in tractor-trailer fire on Interstate 81

A tractor trailer caught fire Monday evening on Interstate 81 leaving 30 horses dead.

Traffic in the northbound lanes were shut down just before 8 p.m., as multiple law enforcement agencies were called to the Town of Lisle, which is just south of the Cortland and Broome County border.

State Police say Clarence Phelps, 56, of Watertown was driving north on 81. He was moving 30 horses from Shippensburg, Pennsylvania to a rendering plant in Massueville, Quebec.

Phelps saw flames coming from the passenger side of the vehicle and pulled over to try to put out the fire.

The nearby Marathon Fire Department and State Police arrived to find flames covering the entire vehicle. They put out the fire, but it was too late to save the horses. All 30 died in the fire.

Troopers say the fire likely started because of a malfunction in the passenger side fuel tank, according to a preliminary investigation.

The New York State Department of Transportation, and the Broome County Sheriff's Office also helped at the scene.