In late 2016, families in the Gatlinburg, Tennessee area were devastated by wildfires. The fires raged through the Great Smoky Mountains and ultimately resulted in 14 deaths and 180 injuries. The cost to rebuild is expected to be as high as $500 million.
In all of the chaos, the Holmes family had to evacuate their home—and they had to do it fast. Once they were safe, they realized who they’d been forced to leave behind: Charles, their pet pot-bellied pig. Worse still, they got word the following day that their house had burned down. Then, a glimmer of hope appeared…
“All hell broke loose,” Rob Holmes, a survivor of the 2016 Gatlinburg, Tennessee wildfires, wrote on Facebook. “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.”
In an effort to avoid the blaze, they grabbed their four dogs and cat—leaving behind their beloved pot-bellied pig, Charles—and fled to a friend’s house. Eventually, they had to stay at a hotel.
The family was devastated when they learned that their house had burned down. Miraculously, Charles was alive!
“The alloy rims were melted off the car,” Rob said of the 800°F temperatures. To survive, Charles had smartly burrowed himself into the ground.
Charles’s hooves were burned and he was severely dehydrated, so he was prescribed rest and fluids.
To treat him for his smoke inhalation and burns, Charles was taken to the University of Tennessee Veterinary Hospital.
“Charles is doing exceptionally well,” Rob wrote in a later Facebook post. “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.”
The Holmes family plans to visit him every day he’s in the hospital.
Despite everything they lost, Charles’s survival has been a small glimmer of hope.
“We lost everything materialistic,” Rob explained, “but we had what was most important: our lives.”
It’s amazing to think that Charles the pig was able to survive that wildfire, and even more incredible that he’s recovering so quickly. If you’re interested in helping the Holmes family with his medical bills, they’ve set up a GoFundMe page here.
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