LAKE COUNTY, FL — A baby bear was rescued during a brush fire in Florida on Thursday.
Lake County Fire Rescue Battalion Chief Randy Jones saved the cub after spotting him while firefighters were in the “mop up” phase after a fire.
“We treated him like one of our own,” Battalion Chief Tony Cuellar said. “Actually, we gave him a name while we waited for fish and game to arrive,” he said: Smokey Junior.
“SJ for short,” Cuellar said.
The roughly 250-acre fire took place in a rural residential area near the Ocala National Forrest, home to Florida’s largest population of Florida black bears, according to the USDA website.
But where’s mama bear?
There are no signs of mama or papa bear as of yet, but Cuellar is hopeful.
“Animals are residual,” he said, “We hope SJ and mom will get back together.”
For now, Smokey has been handed over to the Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission for evaluation, after suffering minor burns to his paws and face.
Smokey is estimated to weigh between 15 and 20 pounds.
“His airways seemed fine, he was acting fine … he was actually pretty calm,” Cuellar said.
He’s actually pretty cute, too.
According to CNN affiliate WFTV, the fire has been 100% contained, and no other injuries have been reported.