Firefighters on the California-Arizona border had their hands full with a blaze that was threatening to spread to nearby suburban areas. Originally reported near Needles, California, the fire would go on to cover almost 7,000 acres and prompted the evacuation of over 1,000 homes. This was a particularly tough battle, which is why it was all the more amazing when the firefighters saw a donkey emerge from the smoke and brush and make its way over to them.
The donkey didn’t seem to fear them at all, but rather seemed to know instinctively that they were there to help. The firemen used their hoses to cool off his singed fur, an act which seemed to win his undying loyalty. From that point on, the burro refused to leave the firemen’s side, staying until they had to re-deploy to a new area four hours later.
"They had this donkey follow them like a little puppy right behind them," Fire Department Chief Bill Weber said. "He was well-behaved. He didn't cause any problems. He was scared and was just clinging right by the sides of the firemen."
"We have many wild donkeys living in the area, so we're very used to them here. They're normally quite skittish, but this one was not," added Fire Department Administrator Jeanne Kentch. "This one followed the firefighters. It's like he knew, 'If I stick with you, I'll be safe.' He kept following them around."
Being so close to that much danger and destruction, you can imagine it can be tough to keep a good attitude. That’s why the timing of the donkey’s appearance was so special. The firemen saved the donkey, but he gave them the moral boost they needed in return.
Said Kentch, "Our firefighters have seen a lot of animals that were killed in the fire, so the situation has been hard on these guys. The donkey has really boosted their spirits. He really made their day."
It was originally not clear whether the donkey had escaped from a farm or was wild. The American Wild Horse sanctuary volunteered to give him a home, but that proved to be unnecessary when a photo of the lucky survivor went viral and his owner was found. It also turned out that he wasn’t the only one to escape the heat, and was reunited with one other donkey and three horses that had fled the same farm.
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H/T: The Dodo