California is currently being ravaged by wildfires. Thousands of properties and businesses have been destroyed and many people and animals have lost their lives. The blazes are so severe that the state has endured four of the deadliest fires in its history over the past year.

Whilst the exact cause of the blazes is yet to be identified, a number of factors have made them worse. The seasonal Santa Ana winds are stronger than usual (reaching speeds of up to 80mph) and this is causing the fires to spread much faster than they otherwise would. The state is currently on an SOS Alert, and California residents in some of the worst-hit areas are under evacuation orders. Social media has been flooded with images and videos showing the extent of the blaze, but one video has captured the hearts of the world. As many people attempted to flee the destruction and the flames, one man suddenly stopped what he was doing to save a rabbit from the fire. The animal darted across a Ventura County highway near La Conchita when it was spotted by the man. Instead of allowing the animal to inevitably perish in its burning habitat, he decided to intervene and became the hero 2017 has been waiting for. The video opens with a man in a hoodie looking hysterically into the flames and jumping up and down as he tries to think of a way to save the rabbit without losing his own life. Eagle-eyed viewers will see the rabbit at the beginning of the video jumping into the flames. The man puts out his hands, beckoning the rabbit to come towards him. Even though wild rabbits aren’t known for being particularly tame, amazingly, the rabbit appeared to realize that the man was trying to save its life and it ran towards him. “He’s saving an animal!” a voice can be heard saying in the background of the video. This act of compassion has now gone viral on the internet, with hoards of people praising the anonymous man for putting his own life at risk to save an animal. However, not everyone believed that the man’s decision to save the rabbit was heroic. In fact, local animal experts have now warned would-be heroes against following in his footsteps. This is because the rabbit which was saved was most likely a desert cottontail –  a breed native to the area. At this time of year, they are still giving birth and keep their young safe in burrows underground. So this man could have unknowingly separated a family. “If you encounter a wild animal in our neighborhood, leave it alone,” California Fish and Wildlife spokesperson Peter Tira told SFGate. Watch the incredible footage below and decide for yourself whether this man did the right thing:

Credit: ABC7

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