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Be careful, kitties. You’ve only got eight lives left.

By Chad Taylor
April 02, 2021
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black and white cat wearing cone and recuperating from truck fire
Credit: Courtesy of Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Department

Two cats found themselves in a harrowing situation—one of them even catching on fire—this week and were saved by the combined efforts of the Spotsylvania County Sheriff's Department and some courageous good Samaritans.

The scene unfolded on U.S. Interstate 95 on Monday in Virginia. That's where a 2022 Freightliner tractor-trailer experienced some mechanical issues that caused it to break down and ultimately catch fire. The driver made it out safely, but his two cats—named Smokey and Bandit, because what else are you going to name two cats when you're a truck driver—were not so lucky.

Fires can be frightening and stressful enough on your own, but with pets the intensity can get ratcheted. They often don't know what's going on and can have difficult times finding their way out of enclosed spaces in the panic. Most often, we hear about first responders pulling pets out of homes and other buildings, but as we see here, large vehicles can be every bit as dangerous when the fire spreads quickly.

As the fire raged over the tractor-trailer, the driver rushed to get his cats out of the cab, assisted by some passersby who stopped to help, along with first responders from the sheriff's department. As photos of the scene show, the truck was a total loss, with the tractor burning down to the pavement, gutting the trailer behind it as well. Little, black-and-white Bandit was on fire when he was pulled from the blaze, but both kitties were alive and are receiving veterinary care and said to be doing well, even if they are each down one of their nine lives.

For his part, the driver extended his heartfelt thanks to the first responders and helpful civilians who came together to save him and his pets from the fire.

"We may not know the names of the kind citizens who helped locate him yesterday, but we can tell you that the owner is eternally grateful," the sheriff's office told NBC 12.

Even though the photos of the fire and its aftermath are harrowing, this story ultimately has a happy ending. Because while this driver's freight shaker might be 86'd on 95th Street, Smokey and the Bandit are A-OK, thanks to the actions of some brave County Mounties and a couple of fast-acting roller skates. Now everyone can hammer down to their home-20 for a little RnR. 10-4, good buddies.