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Firefighter stands with koala during bushfires in Australia; pic goes viral

A heartbreaking image encapsulates the devastation caused by bushfires that currently raging in Australia. The bushfires have burnt more than 4 million hectares (9.88 million acres) of land across five states since September. Along with an impact on flora, the bushfire crisis has also destroyed wildlife and stressed out animals.

Eden Hills Country Fire Service, a volunteer fire department in South Australia, posted the now-viral photo on Facebook on Sunday. The photo shows a firefighter facing a wall of flames and smoke. Next to him stands a koala, watching the fire too. The two stand in a small puddle of water from a dripping fire hose, according to Earther.

According to The Guardian, the photo was clicked at Lobethal in the Adelaide Hills. Dale Adams, a lieutenant at the Eden Hills Country Fire Service, managed to capture the scene when two koalas came out of the bush to escape the fire. He said that it’s common for koalas to come out, apparently looking for firefighters, in these situations.

“They stepped out of the bush seeking help,” he said. The photo features Mr Adams’ colleague standing next to one of the koalas.

Since being posted online, the photo has collected more than 1,300 ‘shares’ and a ton of comments.

“Bless you all – what a priceless photo – stay safe,” wrote one person. “So poignant and sad,” another said.

Australian firefighters and volunteers spent Christmas Day containing blazes and caring for baby animals stressed by hot weather, bushfires and drought.

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