Wildfire in Wythe County leads to surprise for fire crews

WYTHE COUNTY, Va. – While crews were out fighting what turned into a more than 150-acre wildfire, they were also given an unexpected surprise.

“The brush fire where the brush fire started, rekindled, so, it started flaring back up,” said Matthew Hankins, assistant county administrator for Wythe County. “It got pretty hot, and we started to hear a yowling or a yelping in the brush.”

On Thursday night, firefighters in Wythe County responded to a brush fire off Harmon Road.

While they have contained the fire now, during the fire fight, a neighbor said they saw a bear run from the woods.

As the fire burned, they started to hear an odd sound, and had to investigate.

“One of the fire fighters pointed out that he saw movement and so I saw it and it was just a little bear’s nose pointing out,” said Hankins. “It was pretty obvious what it was. I was able to reach under the tree and pull him out, he was the only one that was there that we could find.”

He said at that point, it was an experience no one can prepare for.

“I was able to hold on to him, clasp him, and he was actually pretty calm,” said Hankins. “[He] didn’t try to scratch me or anything. He actually almost seemed like he was asking for help because he didn’t try and run away or get away from me.”

He said being able to hear the cub during everything was a miracle.

“The fact [we were] standing there in the right place at the right time, able to hear that, you know, I see God in that,” Hankins said.

He said they gave over the cub to the Virginia Department of Wildlife Resources where the cub will be rehabilitated back into the wild.

About the Author

Thomas grew up right here in Roanoke and is a graduate of Salem High School and Virginia Tech.

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