When the deadly Camp Fire ripped through parts of northern California in November 2018, it destroyed more than 14,000 residences, killed 85 people and innumerable animals, and displaced many people, livestock and pets. Firefighters valiantly worked for weeks to get the fire under control, and many went above and beyond to help any living creature they came across.
In the town of Paradise, Sacramento Fire Department Chief Gary Loesch and firefighter Chris Harvey were driving down a road to inspect a report of a fallen tree that had caused an accident. They expected to find more damage; what they did not expect to see instead were two weary, confused donkeys.
The donkeys were wandering around the road, apparently lost and confused by their strange and unfamiliar surroundings. They hobbled around, heads low to the ground. As the firefighters neared the animals, they knew they had to do something to help.
“We pulled over to let them pass, and saw that they looked very tired, worn out and thirsty,” Harvey explained. “I tried to give them some water in my hand from a water bottle, but it kept spilling out.” The donkeys had experienced significant fear and trauma, and the way they carried themselves showed the stresses they suffered.
Harvey quickly realized that the water he offered the donkeys wasn't enough. He went back to the truck, took the apples that he and Loesch had in their lunch bags and brought them over to the donkeys. Harvey squatted down in front of the animals and offered them the apples.
“They ate the apples quickly and seemed grateful for the snack,” Harvey said. “We called base camp and had them dispatch animal control officers to get the donkeys.” The small act of kindness meant everything to these donkeys, who were far from home and in need of care.
Harvey and Loesch stayed with the donkeys until animal control arrived to take them to safety. Hopefully, these donkeys were reunited with their owners. The time these firefighters took to show compassion and care for the animals gave the donkeys a touch of peace in a world that had been sundered by fire.
Take the time to salute the emergency responders who did everything they could to save the people and animals affected by the Camp Fire. Watch the video below for more about the Sacramento donkeys and a cat that was rescued by another firefighter.