SACRAMENTO, Cali. (KTXL) — A Tahoe-area firefighter is home after spending a month in Australia battling massive wildfires. He says he learned a lot through the experience, but most of all, he gained compassion.
“A couple days before Christmas I got a phone call, get your stuff ready, you’re leaving on the 30th,” said Captain Dave Soldavini, a USDA Forest Service Firefighter.
Captain Soldavini says Australia’s eucalyptus trees cause fire to behave even more dangerously.
“It’s more aerodynamic. So it’s able to go aloft and travel further distances just because of the design of the bark,” he said.
He says there were some horrible moments, but also moments of joy that he will treasure for life. One of those moments was captured in a photograph that has been shared around the world. In it, Captain Soldavini is comforting a young orphaned kangaroo. He says says the animal seemed relieved.
“Like it knew it was safe. And I’m sure the previous 24 hours had been really traumatic for it. And it just seemed like, okay I can take a nap now. I can relax and, yeah it seemed to know that it was going to be taken care of,” said Soldavini.
The joey was handed off to an animal rescuer.
Captain Soldavini was also photographed visiting a different kangaroo now being treated for burns with medical supplies firefighters paid for out of pocket.
“You know, with everything that had happened and the stories we heard, it was like hey here’s one bit of compassion we can show to a living thing and, yeah, I’m very proud of that, said Soldavini.
He says he’s happy to be home, but he’s glad he answered the call of service eight-thousand miles away.
Soldavini said, “Really more than anything what I learned is just the value of compassion for people, what they’re going through, for animals. They have feelings too. And getting to be part of that effort was a very very rewarding experience.”