Wild owl rides shotgun as helicopter pilot fights Creek Fire in Sierra National Forest

California

Photo courtesy of Sky Aviation

An owl joined a helicopter pilot mid-flight while crews worked to help extinguish the Creek Fire burning in the Sierra National Forest, according to KTLA sister station KSEE/KGPE in Fresno.

“It’s odd to have an owl enter an aircraft. It’s unheard of to have it enter while the helo is in-flight,” Sky Aviation said.

In what Sky Aviation is calling “an unexplainable and magical miracle,” the owl sat with the pilot for several water drops as the Creek Fire ravaged the owl’s home below.

Then, just as it had arrived — “safe and unannounced” — the owl parted company with pilot Dan Alpiner, who flies the helicopter for the Wyoming-based charter company.

There’s only one photo of the owl, because “it’s not easy to fly a mission and be a photographer at the same time,” Sky Aviation explained.

As of Wednesday, the Creek Fire has scorched more than 525 square miles in Madera and Fresno counties since igniting on Sept. 4. The blaze, which has destroyed more than 850 structures and injured 22 people, is 55% contained, according to Cal Fire.

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