It had been a long, 24 hours for one group of firefighters, who’d been tackling a wildfire in Washington state. But their hard work paid off when one lucky survivor turned up to show her gratitude.
The firefighters in question were from Kittitas County Fire District #7, and they were attending to a wildfire that started in July 2016. The fire was so savage, in fact, that it had forced several Kittitas County residents from their homes as it raged across an area of 40 acres.
In addition, the fire had threatened the county’s chimpanzee sanctuary. As a result, a hundred firefighters tackled the perimeter of the blaze. They also closed a nearby stretch of highway as helicopters dropped water on the flames and around endangered homes.
Thankfully, the firefighters had the inferno under control within a day. What’s more, their fast work kept the Chimpanzee Sanctuary Northwest out of harm’s way.
The real story, though, occurred while the fire crew was conducting their post-operations. It was then, after all, that they received an unlikely visitor at the command post by Highway 10. Amazingly, they even recognized their surprise four-legged caller.
It turned out that the squad’s visitor was a local celebrity elk. Certainly, the beautiful creature is well known in the Kittitas County area, where residents have affectionately nicknamed her “Buttons.”
Thankfully, Buttons was unharmed by the fire and just happy to see the all the people who had worked so hard to save her neighborhood. Indeed, she let them know just how grateful she was to see them.
In adorable scenes, Buttons seemingly made her way around every single fire crew member, nuzzling up to them for kisses and letting them pet her. It was almost as if she knew the firefighters were there to help.
Amazed by what she was seeing, Kittitas County Fire District spokeswoman Richelle Risdon photographed the heartwarming meeting and shared the snaps on Facebook. “Staff did not seek her out. She walked into the command post area and began nudging everyone,” she wrote.
Of course, the uplifting post was an instant hit online and has since amassed over six thousand reactions. It has also been shared around the world, with many people acknowledging the fire district’s lifesaving work.
“She is showing her gratitude to all of the fire fighters who saved her life,” wrote one commenter. “Animals know and remember kindness and will remember the same!”
Ridson told press that with all her online attention, she hoped that local hunters would know to stay clear of the much-loved Buttons. Her sentiment was echoed by many of the elk’s Facebook fans, with some suggesting that she should be given a bright collar so she can be easily identified.
Mind you, Buttons is well known to locals, and she is frequently spotted roaming the hills along the highway. Indeed, they describe the friendly elk as a “neighborhood mascot.”
This is despite the fact that many elks pass through the area. “I think everybody in the county knows her,” resident Chane Roghair told the Daily Record.
Since Buttons stays in the area, then, the local theory is that she was orphaned. But the elk is far from lonely; she has plenty of other hooved creatures as her nearest and dearest friends and adopted family.
“She showed up here when she was little,” Roghair said. “She adopted the goats and horses as her family, and she just stayed.”
And so, Buttons became a fixture of everyday life in Kittitas County. She even managed to make friends with the chimps over at the chimpanzee sanctuary.
“The chimps are like her pets,” the sanctuary’s co-director J.B. Mulcahy told the Daily Record. “She sits and watches. We love having her around.” He added, “She tries to come in the house. She ripped off the screen of our house.”
Despite her naughty nature, though, staff at the sanctuary and Roghair go out of their way to look after Buttons. In the winter when food is scarce, for instance, Buttons comes down to Roghair’s ranch where he feeds her hay.
And Roghair isn’t the only one to have noticed Buttons’ docile nature. As one user commented on Kittitas County Fire District’s Facebook post, “That’s gotta be Buttons! Since she was a baby during Taylor Bridge fire, she’s hung out at Chane Roghair’s ranch with the goats and cattle and horses. Don’t think she knows she’s an elk. Bless her heart!”