Firefighters are caring for a bear cub that seemingly lost its mother in Northern California’s Dixie fire at the beginning of the month.
Johnnie Macy has looked after the emaciated cub for several days, after rescuing the hungry creature from charred parts of Butte, Plumas, Lassen counties. The firefighter deployed from Golden, Colorado has quite fittingly named him ‘Smokey.’
“Generally, when you see them with a sow or a mother bear, they will stay with the mother bear and run off,” he said according to the Associated Press. “This bear has not done that.”
Macy is trying to determine if the cub’s parents died in the fire. If this is confirmed, it will be “heartbreaking” news. However, the firefighter is still optimistic that Mother Nature is “taking its course.”
The Dixie fire has burned more than 867 square miles (2,246 square kilometers)—an area about the size of Tokyo, Japan. More than 1,000 houses and enterprises were devastated, and over 15,000 structures were still at risk at the time of publication.
More than 6,000 firefighters have been deployed, and 31 percent of the fire-affected area was under control on Aug. 15.
Although officials have not confirmed the wildfire’s root cause, Pacific Gas and Electric suspects the blaze could have started after a tree fell onto a power line.
A different cub was recently rescued from a fire in eastern Siskiyou County, Calif. The creature suffered burns to the paws and nose.
The animal was last spotted tunneling out of the Lake Tahoe Wildlife Care center where his wounds were treated. The bear has since been released back into the wild.