ENVIRONMENT

Emu Escaping Wildfire Watches As Homes Go Up In Flames

People and wildlife alike are fleeing the blazes fueled by dry brush, high heat and low humidity.

Wildfires ravaging southern California amid a brutal heat wave have forced many people from their homes. But wildlife in the area is also being affected.

Photographers on Monday spotted an emu feeling the Border Fire, which has been raging since Sunday in the small Potrero community just outside San Diego. The fire has already consumed 6,500 acres and forced the evacuation of roughly 100 homes in the area. 

An emu runs to escape an approaching wildfire as it burns near Potrero, California, U.S. June 20, 2016. 
An emu runs to escape an approaching wildfire as it burns near Potrero, California, U.S. June 20, 2016. 

Most birds simply fly away during a wildfire while larger mammals run; emus, which are among the largest birds in the world, can't fly.

They're native to Australia but are particularly populous in California and Texas after being brought to the U.S. to be raised for meat and oil

While at least one Potrero-area emu was escorted to safety by border patrol, not all wildlife is under threat during a wildfire. 

As National Geographic notes, creatures that don't flee hunker down near rivers and streams, burrow into the ground or hide under rocks. And some organisms like fungi or trees (think the Morel mushroom or great sequoias) actually need wildfires to reproduce. 

Scroll down to see more photos:

  • An emu runs to escape an approaching wildfire as it burns near Potrero, California, U.S. June 20, 2016. 
    Mike Blake / Reuters
    An emu runs to escape an approaching wildfire as it burns near Potrero, California, U.S. June 20, 2016. 
  • Mike Blake / Reuters
  • Mike Blake / Reuters
  • Mike Blake / Reuters
  • U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer Constantino Zarate tries to herd an Emu off the highway as a wildfire continues to bur
    Mike Blake / Reuters
    U.S. Customs and Border Patrol officer Constantino Zarate tries to herd an Emu off the highway as a wildfire continues to burn north of the U.S. Mexico border near Potrero, California, U.S. June 21, 2016. 
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