With wildfires burning for the fifth straight day, the news from Southern California this week has been grim.
But lost in the mass displacement (CNN reports that 190,000 people have fled their homes), desperate tales of survival, and widespread property destruction are isolated moments of hope.
Case in point: This unidentified motorist who pulled over to save a frightened bunny — thought to be a desert cottontail — from encroaching flames.
Video of the man's selfless deed was captured by an ABC 7 news crew on Highway 1 near La Conchita, an unincorporated community of 2,000 people, where the Thomas Fire has scorched 132,000 acres since Monday. (Press play to watch it below.)
The harrowing footage, which shows the man anxiously coaching the critter into his arms, was reposted at Twitter, where it promptly trended with more than 100,000 retweets.
The anonymous man, witnesses say, declined a request for an interview and drove off. (According to the Huffington Post, he later left the rabbit with a local veterinary hospital, where it is said to be on the mend.)
Most agreed that it was a welcome antidote to what were otherwise terrible headlines:
"Cool I'm crying a lot", wrote this woman.
"He was so gentle with the rabbit," swooned a second.
"Damn... and just like that my faith in humanity is restored", shared another.
"Is it too late to change 'Time Person of the Year'??", quipped this man.
Surprisingly, there was also a backlash of sorts, with some warning that it was it was a stunt that carried risk for both the man — and the bunny.
"He could've easily been injured, which would've been horrible for him/his family and a strain on already overtaxed emergency responders."
And as noted by LiveScience, his actions may have come with an unintended consequence: The possible abandonment of the bunny's litter in a nearby burrow, which are typically safe refuges during firestorms.
"In general, wild animals are good at dealing with wildfires, scary events that are still more or less regular features of many ecosystems, according to ecologists. When a wildfire moves through an area, according to a January 2000 report from the U.S. Forest Service, the blaze usually fails to kill very many animals outright," wrote a staff writer for LiveScience.
For their part, officials with the California Department of Fish and Wildlife have urged people to resist the impulse to help wild animals of any kind, explaining that fire is something most species deal with on a routine basis.
What do you think? Is he a hooded hero or needlessly meddling with things beyond his control? Share your thoughts in the comment section below!