Now that Carlton Reserve brush fire is out, wildlife center prepares to treat injured animals

A gopher tortoise was recently rescued from a sea of ash and burned bushes after a brush fire tore through 550 acres of Carlton Reserve

"It tugs at your heartstrings because he was struggling, struggling to breathe just like we do when we are caught in fire," said Pamela DeFouw with the Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida. "He has burns on all four of his legs. Fortunately, he’s still holding on. He’s still very, very critical, but he’s still with us and that gives us some optimism."

DeFouw and her team of volunteers are housed less than a mile away from the reserve.

"Our facility is getting ready to handle the post-fire. A lot of times you don’t see the effects until several days after," she explained.

While many animals can run away from the flames, some may have gotten disoriented or trapped. 

The fire is out, but DeFouw is ready for injuries to come through her door.

READ Fire crews from Tampa Bay area head south to fight spreading brush fires

"If something is injured, timing is important, burns are painful. Infections are very, very critical. The sooner we can get those animals in and treated the better," she said.

As the tortoise continues to heal, DeFouw and her team stand at the ready to help other animals that may have been injured in the fire.

"We want to get them in, get them help and get them back out in the wild," she said.

To report an injured animal to the Wildlife Center of Southwest Florida call 941-484-9657 or visit

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