As wildfires blaze across Arizona, hotshot crews are working around the clock to save property, people — and deer.
Friday evening, members of an elite hotshot crew fighting the most intense part of the central Arizona blaze spotted a rare sight — two deer fawns, disoriented but uninjured, “right there along the fire line,” Kale Casey, a spokesman for the Goodwin Fire incident management team tells the The Washington Post.
“They were confused and mama’s gone,” Casey told the Post. “There was a 100 percent certainty these fawns were going to die.”
Without pause, firefighters from the Flagstaff-based hotshot crew grabbed the two baby deer from the oncoming flames carrying them to safety.
The crew, who would normally not disturb wildlife, posted the rescue footage on Facebook, where it is being widely shared.
“The Hotshots carried the fawns out of harm’s way and transferred them to a nearby unaffected habitat so they could be reunited with their mother,” officials wrote. In a separate post about the rescue, they added: “#SmokeyBear would be very, very happy.”
Casey tells the Post often times, firefighters don’t see animals until it’s too late.
“It’s not uncommon for hotshots to see burnt and severely wounded animals that are beyond saving after the fire,” Casey said. “Of course there are going to be animals that perish when fires are fast-moving. There’s just not the manpower or it’s not feasible to be able to start transporting injured, fully grown elk, deer, moose or bear.”
In this case, however, the Post reports the fawns were in harm’s way, with their mother nowhere to be seen. The hotshot crews knew they couldn’t leave them behind to die.
“There’s no standard operating procedure for this. This is simply an act of what hotshots do,” Casey said. “They’re a service-oriented people — so they’re not going to walk by.”
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