'Hero' fireman hailed after helping rabbit injured in gorse fire
A fireman has been hailed a hero for rescuing a burnt rabbit from a raging gorse fire.
Tom Collins was helping his colleagues battle a blaze on remote Sheep's Head in west Cork when the bunny hopped over to him.
The firefighter, based at nearby Skibbereen Fire Station for 16 years, said the tiny wild rabbit had burnt his head trying to flee the flames.
He also had a high temperature and looked like he needed help.
"We gave him a bit of a dousing with water and cooled him down," said Mr Collins, who was pictured by a colleague giving the rabbit a drink.
"He was a little worse for wear.
"We kind of cooled him down for two minutes, gave him a drink, let him down to see how he was doing and off he hopped."
Pictures of the rabbit rescue shared on social media have sparked a massive outpouring of praise from animal lovers.
On Facebook, Vicki Curtis said: "God bless you for helping this little mite!!! Just so sad for the unfortunate animals that lost their lives."
Anne Walsh added: "Ah poor baby. Good work Mr Fireman."
Trish McCarthy posted: "Unbelievable photo, such a sweet thing to do," while Maire Ni Mhaonaigh simply wrote: "Hero."
Mr Collins said he has often seen animals flee gorse fires and found the remnants of bird nests and eggs in the scorched earth afterwards.
Unseasonably dry weather has been blamed for helping a number of ferocious outbreaks in wild gorse land around the south-west of Ireland in recent days.
Over the weekend, a blaze in the stunning Gougane Barra valley, covering some 4km (2.5 miles) at its peak, took days to bring under control.