As the wildfires raged and closed in on Concow, California, animal rescuers raced in to save and remove as much livestock as they could. Shayla Sullivan and other local rescuers moved into the area, intent on saving two horses they had received a report about. When they arrived, stunned by the devastation wrought by the fires, they rounded up the horses and trailered them.
At that moment, Sullivan saw two kittens scurry past, running toward an adult cat she presumed was their mother. The kittens hid in a wood-burning stove, a place their mother had hidden them, probably to protect them from coyotes; in the end, the stove ended up being the spot that saved them from the wildfire.
The kittens were not unscathed, however; they were severely burnt and needed immediate medical care. The mother ran off before rescuers could get her, so one rescuer reached into the wood stove and brought out a black kitten, followed by an orange kitten. "Ironically, they were in a wood stove when they survived the fire," Sullivan said.
The kittens were rushed to FieldHaven Feline Center for emergency medical attention. "The people at FieldHaven were wonderful. They put them in warm towels and started getting them IV fluids right away," Sullivan explained. "They told me that the little orange one probably wouldn't have made it one more night."
Veterinary staff named the orange kitten Phoenix and the black kitten Ash. Despite their injuries, the two brothers were inseparable; in fact, Phoenix was extremely protective of Ash, even though he was the more injured of the two.
"Phoenix had singed fur, no whiskers, and burned paws. He was very protective of his brother who was unharmed. All through their first night at the shelter, Phoenix kept throwing his body over Ash," FieldHaven staff said.
"We think it's because he threw his body over Ash during the fire to protect him. Once Phoenix realized Ash was safe and sound in our care, he relaxed enough to start his own healing," staff reported.
In the meantime, the kittens' mother is being monitored back at the spot they were all found. Rescuers are making sure she has fresh water and food, and they hope to capture her humanely and get her a safe home.
As for Phoenix and Ash, their story has the happiest ending possible. FieldHaven Feline Center held an adoption essay contest for people interested in giving the brothers a forever home. After reading hundreds of essays, Robin and Greg were chosen as the new pet parents for the kittens.
Ash and Phoenix will join a home with plenty of furry siblings for them to play with, including two cats and a dog.
Thanks to the efforts of thousands of rescuers, many pets from the Camp Fire wildfires have been saved, given medical help and even reunited with their families.
Phoenix and Ash are two of the lucky ones to survive the fire and find a caring home.