Drivers on Interstate 85 northbound in Suwanee had to hold their figurative horses while officials tried to free some real ones on the interstate Tuesday.

Gwinnett County firefighters rescued three horses, including one with injuries, from a damaged trailer following a multi-vehicle wreck on I-85, just south of Lawrenceville-Suwanee Road, amid afternoon rush hour traffic.

The accident involved three vehicles including the horse trailer, a box truck and a semi-trailer. Crews were called to the scene just after 4:30 p.m.

There were fears among first responders that it could turn into a hazmat situation because the box truck was carrying acetylene tanks.

“Further assessment of the box truck revealed heavy damage to the vehicle but all acetylene tanks remained intact,” Gwinnett County fire and Emergency Services Firefighter Driver Engineer Donald Strother said. “Once that was confirmed, the arduous process of freeing the horses was initiated.”

Photos provided by fire officials show the trailer was hit from behind by the box truck, which had itself been hit from behind by the semi. The front of the box truck was pushed inside the horse trailer while the front portion of the semi’s cab was inside the rear of the box truck.

Fire officials said two of the horses could be removed from the damaged trailer without heavy-duty equipment being needed. Extrication tools were needed, however, to free the third horse, which had sustained unspecified injuries.

“Firefighters did an outstanding job of cutting open the horse trailer without causing any further injury to the horse,” Strother said. “Once extricated, the horse was able to walk despite its sustained injuries.

“A veterinarian was requested to respond to the incident to determine the best course of action for the injured horse. Animal control was contacted to provide a trailer to transport the horses.”

Fire officials did not specify what caused the accident. Two people were treated at the scene of the accident, including one who was taken to a hospital with non-life-threatening injuries.

“The hazmat team applied granular absorbents to help clean up the diesel fuel that had leaked onto the highway,” Strother said. “Once the wreckage was removed from the highway, all fire units returned to service.”