When Jen Shockley Brack saw a baby deer running for its life, she jumped into the flames to save the endangered Key deer fawn.
“I wasn’t scared. I saw his big eyes and he was so scared and trembling, I just had to get him,” Shockley Brack told ABC News.
The Monroe County Fire Rescue firefighter saw the young spotted fawn while responding to the Big Pine Key brush fire in the Florida Keys. It's the beginning of the wildfire season in the area, and the fire was moving rapidly after starting Sunday afternoon.
Shockley Brack, who’s been working with the Monroe County Fire Rescue for three and a half years, and her team were holding the fire line to protect exposures in the area Sunday.
“I saw this little guy run out and he was terrified,” Shockley Brack said. “He was scared to death and his little legs were shaking.”
She told her coworker she was going in after him because the area where the fawn ran was fully engulfed. When she got to the fawn, he laid down and looked up at her.
“I think he knew I was there to help him,” she said.
Shockely Brack scooped up the fawn in her arms, singeing her eyelashes a little as she reached into the burning bush where the fawn hid.
While it is not uncommon to find Key deer near fires, they have adapted to stay safe in instances of fire. This was a unique situation because the fawn was found without its mother.
Rescue workers brought the fawn to a truck, giving him oxygen, water and wrapping him in a sheet while the fire was brought under control. The young deer was unharmed and, in accordance with the Key Deer Refuge Policy, was released back into the wild.
Shockley Brack said the fire was particularly bad because of the devestation caused by Hurricane Irma last summer. She said the hurricane knocked down a lot of trees, providing more fuel for the fire. Wildfires are natural to the ecosystem in the Florida Keys, but this one was particularly large.
The fire burned 100 acres and took one residence. But the property loss could have been much worse if the crews hadn't responded as quickly and effectively as they did, she explained.
Shockley Brack and her team evacuated residents’ pet dogs and cats, including a Mastiff and Saint Bernard.
Since it’s a small area, she said, she thinks the fawn will easily be able to meet back up with the rest of the herd.
“Hopefully that little guy is out there," she said, "and doing OK."