Through the destruction and despair, the recent wildfires in Tennessee have offered a reminder of the beauty and strength of animals. First we were awed by the tale of a cat named Tiger who saved his owner’s life by alerting him to the impending blaze. And now we’ve learned of another hopeful tale out of Gatlinburg—a story about an incredible pet pig named Charles who survived the fires against all odds and waited patiently for his family to return.
As the flames marched toward them early last week, Rob Holmes and his family found themselves trapped in their home. "Then all hell broke loose," Holmes wrote on Facebook, The Dodo reports. "The trees snapped and the power lines dangled over our driveway. We could not get the cars out and the smoke was so bad our 18-month son Wyatt was having a hard time breathing."
So they fled, along with four dogs and one cat, to a neighbor's house and then later to a hotel. But Holmes says his daughter, Andrea, cried all night because they weren’t able to bring their pig Charles.
The next day a neighbor called to tell them the unthinkable: Their house had burned to the ground. But there was a silver lining. Good ol’ Charles had survived.
The Holmes family rushed back to what was left of their house to find Charles burrowed into the ground and waiting for them. Dehydrated, a bit singed, and with burns on his hooves, the beloved pig was somehow alive.
"When I arrived ... I couldn't believe my eyes," Holmes wrote. "Charles had burrowed in the mud to survive. The lord let us keep Charles. How else could he [have] survived 800 degree temperatures. The alloy rims were melted off the car."
Charles is being treated at University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital, and gets daily visits from his family. And according to a recent update from Holmes, he’s “doing exceptionally well.”