Kind-Hearted Firefighters Rescue Koalas During Adelaide Hills Bushfires
A photo of a firefighter's efforts to rescue a group of koalas during the bushfire emergency in South Australia has gone viral, but he insists he is no hero.
The photo shows a group of six koalas huddled together in a home, with one clinging onto a wall and others sitting on top of a garden hose.
Local resident Janelle Michalowski shared the photo, saying it was taken by volunteer firefighter Adam Mudge, who rescued the animals as fire tore through the Cudlee Creek area.
"Amazing work by a man named Adam and his mates who pulled these guys out of harm's way at Cudlee Creek and into safety!" Michalowski wrote in a Facebook post on Friday.
The photo has since been shared almost 30,000 times on Facebook.
But Mudge, a father of two and member of the SA Country Fire Service, reportedly brushed off the praise, insisting he is no hero.
"We were just there," Mudge told the Daily Mail.
Mudge said he and his crew were tasked to protect an elderly couple's Cudlee Creek home on Friday morning.
As they waited for the blaze to approach, Mudge said he saw koalas coming out of the scrub and encouraged the crew to rescue them.
"By the time we left, those landowners had eight koalas in their laundry," he said, adding the praise should be theirs.
"At the end of the day, they were the ones who took the koalas in, who had to take them to wildlife rescue."
In the original Facebook post, Michalowski said that 'Koala Rescue' were "all over the situation".
There are dozens of wildlife organisations in South Australia that are helping with the bushfire effort. About five of them tend to koalas while others help birds, kangaroos, possums and echidnas.
One organisation, called 'Adelaide Koala Rescue', said it had rescued more than 60 koalas after recent heatwaves and the bushfire in Adelaide Hills.
"The bushfire victims will continue needing rescue, treatment and rehab for survivors and we pay for it all ourselves," it said in a Facebook post.
"We now have another heatwave forecast and it's worse than the last one."
For those wishing to donate, the charity has requested the public wait until a place is nominated for supplies and to avoid calling the centre as phone lines are needed for emergency calls.
One person, 69-year-old Ron Selth, was killed in the fires in Adelaide Hills, while another three people are in hospital with burns.
The bushfire has burned through 25,00 hectares, destroying at least 86 homes. Another 484 other buildings and 278 vehicles have also been destroyed.
At least seven more homes have been severely damaged, with 20 suffering minor damage.
Six cows and a calf died in the fires, while 300 sheep were found dead. Another 390 sheep were shot after they were badly burned.
There are still 300 firefighters on the ground working to establish breaks and contain areas still burning within the 127-kilometre perimeter of the blaze.