The westbound lanes of the TransCanada Highway just below Fredericton were closed for about three hours Monday evening, after a transport truck hauling livestock caught fire.

Oromocto RCMP

Shortly before 6 p.m., the Oromocto RCMP responded to a report of a truck fire approximately five kilometers east of New Maryland, according to Sgt. André Duval. The truck, from Sussex, was carrying more than 40 head of cattle and two horses.

The driver of the truck was able to pull over and stop safely, and managed to free 11 of the cows, Duval said. Three cows died in the blaze which was quickly extinguished by the Fredericton Fire Department.

Police say the rest of the livestock remained on the trailer and were unharmed. The surviving Holsteins were loaded onto trailers and taken back to Sussex.

The investigation has determined that the fire originated from a wheel on the trailer, Sgt. Duval said. The highway re-opened shortly before 9 p.m.

The New Brunswick Commercial Vehicle Enforcement Branch, a veterinarian with the New Brunswick Department of Agriculture, Aquaculture and Fisheries, and Maritime Road Development Corporation also assisted at the scene.