Family Returns To Find Their Home Destroyed By Wildfire — And Their Pet Pig Waiting For Them
"When I arrived ... I couldn't believe my eyes."
A massive and deadly wildfire ripped through the woods of Tennessee, where Rob Holmes and his family live.
The Holmes family had been trapped in their home last Monday night, as flames surrounded them, when suddenly it became clear that they had to leave.
"All hell broke loose," Holmes said. "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."
The whole family fled, along with four dogs and one cat, to a neighbor's house and then to a hotel where they were safe. But Rob's daughter, Andrea, cried all night because there was one animal they didn't manage to bring with them - their pet pig, Charles.
The next day, a neighbor called Holmes and told him the worst news a homeowner can hear: the Holmes house was completely burned to the ground.
But then came some more news: Charles the pig was alive.
The family rushed to the land where their house once stood and found Charles burrowed into the ground.
"When I arrived ... I couldn't believe my eyes," Holmes said. "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 was a bit singed and had burns on his hooves. He was also very dehydrated and wouldn't eat. He was given fluids and his family gathered around him to make him feel safe.
Because he was still suffering from inhaling so much smoke, Charles was brought to the University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital where he can get the care he needs as he recovers.
And he has a lot of visitors.
"Charles is doing exceptionally well," Holmes said on Tuesday. "He got up to greet us and looks really good. He is still not wanting to get up much due to the burns on his hooves. But his spirit is back."
Holmes said that the family doesn't know how long Charles will have to stay at the hospital, but the family "won't miss a day visiting him."
Even if life will never be completely the way it was before for the Holmes family, the future of all its members looks promising.
"We lost everything materialistic," Holmes said, "but we had what was most important, our lives."
To donate to Charles the pig's veterinary bills, click here, or call University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital at 865-974-4379 and say you'd like to help with Charles the pig.
To follow his progress, check out his Facebook page.