Golden Retriever Comforts California Firefighters Putting Out Raging Wildfires | 22 Words

Amid the terrifying California wildfires, there's been a beacon of light in the form of a golden retriever named Kerith, who has made it her mission to break down the stigma of mental health issues in first responders.

The photos are utterly heart-melting...

America is on fire.

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For over a month now, wildfires have been burning across the west, plunging California and other nearby states into crises.

It is a truly terrifying time...

And, sadly, the fires are showing no sign of slowing down anytime soon.

Things are getting out of hand.

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CNN reported that there are currently forty large fires burning across California, Oregon, and Washington after extreme heat and high winds spurred on the flames.

Thousands of residents have been evacuated.

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And more than 2 million acres have burned in California this year alone.

As time trickles on, more and more photos have been emerging from these dismayed areas...

Giving us a perfect, yet harrowing insight into the magnitude of these fires.

But now, a series of photos have been circulating online...

And they are nothing like we have ever seen before.

Like something straight out of a horror movie...

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The skies of America have turned blood red.

Understandably, people have been left incredibly alarmed by the photos...

And it is making many of us ask the question - how on earth has this been allowed to happen?!

Well, as you may have guessed, we mainly have ourselves to blame.

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While some of these fires were started as a result of natural causes, the majority are sadly man-made.

For example...

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The El Dorado Fire, which has grown to more than 10,000 acres, was ignited when a family used a “pyrotechnic device" for a flamboyant gender reveal.

Over six-hundred firefighters were called to tackle the blaze...

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Which became so bad that it could even be seen from satellites in space.

And, as a result of the blaze...

California Governor, Gavin Newsom, was forced to declare a state of emergency in 5 counties.

Many other fires have been caused by mundane human actions...

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Like driving a car that sends soot into dry vegetation, as was the case with the Apple Fire in Southern California this year.

Others have been caused by power transmission lines or other pieces of utility equipment...

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Which may spark and ignite fires in remote - and highly flammable - areas.

It's a truly dire situation.

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And, as the days roll by, more and more photos from the blazes have been emerging from panicked residents across the country.

The fires have engulfed California's skies into a murky orange hue...

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Giving the state an eerie, post-apocalyptical aesthetic.

But now, images have been surfacing from Oregon...

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And they show a blood-red sky in the middle of the afternoon.

It doesn't even look real...

And many of these images were captured long before sunset, with the eerie skies visible in full daylight hours.

But, remarkably, the color isn't actually caused by the flames.

Instead, it’s the result of a phenomenon known as "Rayleigh scattering", which is caused by smoke particles from the wildfires, IFL Science reported.

Firefighters are working tirelessly to battle the flames...

via: Getty Images

As the fires rage on, there has been one beacon of light... in the form of a golden retriever.

2-year-old therapy dog, Kerith has been visiting firefighters across the state to provide some much needed emotional support.

Heidi, Kerith's owner, initially raised her to be a guide dog for the visually impaired, but her affectionate personality proved to be better suited to becoming a therapy dog instead.

"Kerith loves people more than other dogs or anything else."

"It was clear to me from an early age that she would be an excellent therapy dog because of her love and devotion to people," Heidi added. 

After training through the Pet Partners organization and passing the evaluations...

Kerith started working at the emergency department of a local hospital in California, visiting patients, family members, medical staff, and paramedics.

This was where Kerith first formed a bond with firefighters.

And soon, she was paying regular visits to the stations. "It was love at first sight," Heidi said.

Amid the current wildfires tearing through California, Kerith knew the firefighters would need her more than ever.

Kerith and Heidi have visited 2 heavily impacted locations so far: the Woodward Fire base camp in Marin County and the Creek Fire base camp in Fresno County.

At each, the pair arrive around 6 a.m. as the team is eating breakfast and preparing for their upcoming twenty-four-hour shifts.

Kerith walks up and down the rows of parked fire engines, greeting people along the way with comforting cuddles and a wagging tail. "Kerith matches people's energy," Heidi explained. "If a firefighter is super excited and lays on the ground so Kerith can roll around and play with them, then Kerith will be higher energy and silly with them. If a firefighter is calm, stressed, and withdrawn, Kerith will be calm as well. She'll sit closely to the individual, sometimes sit on their feet and lean into their body in a way that says, 'I am here for you as long as you need me.'"

Interacting with therapy dogs like Kerith is proven to provide both mental and physical benefits...

Such as lowered blood pressure, reduced anxiety, slower breathing, and overall mood elevation.

Now, Heidi and Kerith are on a mission to help change the stigma surrounding mental health for first responders.

If you'd like to do your bit to help with her and Kerith's efforts to enable them to afford traveling to the California fire base camps, you can donate to their GoFundMe page here.