(Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images)

California firefighter rescues cat during wildfire and now they're inseparable

For more than 10 days now, California has been ravaged by fast-moving wildfires that have torn through forest land and burned down tens of thousands of homes. According to the latest statistics, at least 80 people have been killed and nearly 1,000 are reported missing - but firefighters are on the case to battle against the flames and save as many lives as possible.

But of course, it's not just people that have been affected by the fires. Countless animals have lost their lives in the disaster, and those that managed to flee are now without a habitat or home to return to.

Fortunately, there are conservation and rescue efforts underway to protect the wildlife that has been hit by the fire, and firefighters have also done what they can to save animals while doing their duty.

One firefighter in particular, Ryan Coleman - the Engine Captain at Fairview Valley Fire Department - is dedicated to helping out the animals he comes across in his work, and has recently gained a friend because of it.

ryan coleman firefighter with cat Credit: Facebook/Ryan Coleman

In a post on Facebook, Coleman shared pictures of himself with a beautiful grey cat that he found wandering amongst the ashes.

"Kitty rescue. She just chilled on my neck and shoulders as I’d walk around," he wrote.

He also shared a video of himself with the cat, in which he laughs and says, "Let's go for a walk. Where are we going? We're just walking around."

People commenting on the post noted how sweet the kitty was, and encouraged Coleman to take her home with him if her owners did not turn up to claim her. He responded saying he wished he could, but he is still working in the area at the moment.

The firefighter's other posts show just how dedicated he has been to fighting fires in the area - not just recently, but during the wildfires earlier on in the year, too.

"On scene of the Camp Fire, and starting shift #1," Coleman had posted a few days earlier. "My heart and prayers go out to the more than 2,000 families that lost their homes and and all the people that lost loved ones. Hoping for the safety of my crew and fellow firefighters. I’m excited to be here helping out, and I’m ready to get started doing what we do!"

ryan coleman firefighter cat Credit: Facebook/Ryan Coleman

It is hoped that rain will help to dampen down the flames in California this week and help to contain the fires further, but those sorts of weather conditions will throw up a whole new set of problems. Rainwater will turn the ash into sludge, and make it very difficult for rescuers such as Ryan Coleman to access the area in order to do their jobs - so time really is of the essence at the moment.

While the fires continue, however, we can only hope that the residents and animals of the area manage to escape to safety, and that the likes of Coleman and his team manage to do their jobs without coming to any harm.