OAKHURST — Firefighters got a bit of a different assignment today when they were called out to convince a deer to get out of an in-ground pool on Road 426.
Those who travel along Road 426 between Oakhurst and the Llama Ranch are very aware of the large population of deer who make a habit of grazing the lawns along that stretch of road. Today, one apparently decided to cool off a bit after lunch.
Just after 2 p.m., Cal Fire Engine 4254 was called out from their Bass Lake station to see what they could do to help Billie — the 88-year-old grandmother who lives at the residence near Quail Ridge Road — with an errant ungulate swimming in her pool.
Billie’s daughter-in-law Francine and her two children were hiking near The Forks at Bass Lake when Billie saw the deer in the water. She called them immediately for help, and they raced to the house. Francine ran to the neighbor’s house, but no one was home.
“This happened to my neighbors a couple years ago, and they got the deer out with a rope, so I needed someone to help me do that,” she says.
With no luck finding someone to help, she called 911.
“I got passed off to the Sheriff’s Office, then Animal Control,” she said, “but it was Cal Fire that saved the day!”
Billie said she had tried shooing it away, but the deer was having none of it.
“He was happy in there,” she said with a smile, standing in the near 100-degree heat. “He didn’t want to come out.”
Firefighters arrived at the scene to lend a hand, and found the young buck swimming around, trying to find purchase on the slippery edge of the pool. However, says Capt. Mike Niewohner, the deer just couldn’t get enough traction with the water level about a foot below the edge.
“We tried to get something into the water that he could step on, but it was too deep,” says Mike. “So we grabbed the skimming net and corralled him into a corner.”
At that point, Mike says he grabbed the little buck by the antlers and another firefighter grabbed it by the legs and they lifted the deer to safety.
It immediately went over and laid down in the brush to rest, exhausted after long efforts to free itself from a situation that likely seemed a good idea at the time.
As soon as the pool was devoid of wildlife, the tarp was immediately pulled into place and secured, and Billie says they are going to “keep it covered for a while now. It’s never happened before, and I hope it doesn’t happen again!”
Francine says the firefighters really went above and beyond when there was no one else to help.
“It was probably 40 minutes to an hour that deer was in the pool,” she says. “It was so tired, it was floating. Then it would start kicking again. I just didn’t want it to die. I really appreciate those Cal Fire guys — they saved the day!”
Meanwhile the firefighters of Engine 4254 headed straight out from the deer incident to a medical call at Bass Lake, followed by another immediately on the heels of that second dispatch, then a fire call to Coarsegold about an hour later. It’s going to be a long and busy weekend for these guys, and let’s hope all their calls have such a satisfactory ending.