Elk Calf Found Alive by Firefighter in the Ashes of New Mexico Fire

·2 min read

Missoula Firefighters IAFF Local 271

A newborn elk is lucky to be alive after being found by firefighters as wildfire continues to rage across New Mexico and the Western part of the country.

Cinder the elk calf was discovered by firefighter Nate Sink of Missoula, Montana, while he patrolled the remote area of the forest in the Sangre de Cristo Mountains near Mora, New Mexico.

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"The whole area is just surrounded in a thick layer of ash and burned trees," Sink told the Associated Press Tuesday. "I didn't think it was alive."

Sink was deployed to New Mexico as part of a mission to help contain the nation's largest wildfire, which has resulted in significant damage to some areas in the state.

On Wednesday, the blaze had moved across 486 square miles amid extremely dry and windy conditions, according to the AP, with more than 3,000 firefighters at work.

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"All across the fire, we're making a lot of really good progress over the last few days," incident commander Carl Schwope said at a briefing Wednesday night, per the Associated Press. "We do have some more critical fire weather moving in ... starting now and getting warmer and drier throughout the weekend. (But) feeling real confident that we are ahead of the curve on that."

Upon the discovery of Cinder, firefighter Sink looked thoroughly for the calf's mother but failed to find any trace of her. The 32-pound bull calf was later transported to a nearby ranch to receive further treatment and is now recuperating at a wildlife rehabilitation center in Espanola, north of Santa Fe, the outlet reports.

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On Sunday, the Missoula Fire Department also shared the news of Cinder's rescue via Facebook, writing, "Our firefighters down in New Mexico with a heartwarming story! Thanks to FF Nate Sink for the account on this one!"

"I learned today that it's common for cow elk to abandon their calves when stressed, during a fire for instance," Sink said in a statement in the post. "This morning while patrolling a burned area I came across a malnourished and lethargic calf elk."

"I carried her out to the engine and thanks to @lisab8181 was able to connect this sweet girl to a Veterinarian that specializes in rehabilitating wild animals, especially elk!" he recalled. "The most incredible outcome for such an incredible day!"