Charles the pig survives wildfires, being treated at UT Veterinary School

Dec. 5, 2016: Veterinarians say Charles the pig is recovering from some first and third degree burns at the UT Veterinary School after the Sevier County fires.

UPDATE:  Rob Holmes and his family are telling us that Charles is doing better. The pig is eating and drinking again for the first time since he survived the fire. Charles will continue to stay at the UT Veterinary School, but the Holmes family says he is progressing toward a stable condition.

PREVIOUS STORY: Volunteers assisting with the animals at the Sevier County Fairgrounds say Charles the pig is starting to suffer from respiratory distress, most likely due to smoke inhalation, as well as minor burns. 

Charles is being treated at the UT Veterinary School for his condition. 

Anyone who is interested in helping animals who were affected by the fire and are being treated at the UT Vet School can contribute to an assisted care fund for large and small animals.

Wildfires forced Rob Holmes and his family to evacuate from their Sevier County home on Monday.

"Basically we drove through fire, we drove through hell, I've never seen anything like it in my whole life," he said.

They had to leave everything behind, including their pet pig Charles. 

The Holmes family received a phone call on Tuesday.

"He says, 'there's nothing left,'" Holmes said. "He says, 'when I say nothing, it's just ashes, but there is some good news. Charles is still there.'"

Somehow, Charles was able to escape the fire by burrowing his way into the mud near the house. Charles was alive, and Holmes knew what he had to do.

"The next morning, I didn't care what it took," Holmes said. "I went to rescue him."

It was an adventure that Holmes detailed on his Facebook page.

"Now he's here with the Sevier County Fair, and they're taking care of him for us," Holmes said. "If you look at the extreme conditions, nobody could survive. A human couldn't, nor a pig. It's a miracle."

Holmes' daughter Andrea asked for the pig nearly three years ago as a Christmas gift. She was happy beyond words.

"I don't think I've ever had a feeling like that before," Andrea Holmes said. "It's like hearing your family member with cancer made it out."

While Andrea, Rob and the others may not have many material possessions left, they're happy that their family is whole once again.

"We're living in a hotel. We're basically left with the clothes that we have. We have nothing, we've lost all of our possessions, but none of that matters," Holmes said. "We've got something more and more important. we've got our family, we've got love.

"The Lord took care of us, and then he blessed us and he gave us back Charles, and so now, we're complete."

While Charles is doing well, he's still weak. The Holmes family is reaching out to vets in the area who would like to fully examine this "fireproof" pig to make sure he's alright.

(© 2016 WBIR)


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