Volunteer firefighter Beau Haines posed for the photo with his son after finishing a 20-hour shift
An emotional picture of an Australian volunteer firefighter holding his newborn baby after working a nearly day-long shift has gone viral on social media as brushfires continue to rage across the continent.
On Jan. 4, professional photographers Kurt and Charlyne Hickling were on hand to photograph firefighter Beau Haines holding his newborn baby, Spencer, at a fire station in Kiewa.
“We captured this photo of baby Spencer and his dad Beau who has fought blazes in [New South Wales] and [Victoria] over the last few weeks,” the couple wrote on their Facebook page, Hickling Photography. “We want to dedicate this photo to all the men and women who are tirelessly battling these blazes to preserve and protect property and lives.”
According to The Independent, Spencer was born on Christmas Eve shortly after Haines left to fight the blazes in New South Wales.
While Haines was able to make it back in time for the birth, he did not yet have a chance to take a professional picture with his newborn baby. Then he and the family enlisted the couple to take pictures at the station. Charlyne Hickling is credited with taking the stunning photograph.
“We chose to do the shoot in the fire station because the parents requested it due to the nearby threats of bush fires and felt this would be the safest option,” Kurt Hickling told The Independent.
“The message we wanted was to show was that the men and [women] of the CFA are paramount to the community and to show they have families to come home to, which is why we always pray for a safe return to our firefighters,” he added.
In an interview with Today, Kurt Hickling revealed Haines had finished a 20-hour shift when the photos were taken.
“You could see the love,” he told the outlet. “Beau was emotional and exhausted from working a 20-hour shift and just so glad to be home with his family.”
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“It’s so important for these heroes to make it home to their families,” he continued.
The emotional picture garnered thousands of likes since it was posted to Facebook, and many commenters took the chance to thank Haines for his heroism.
“Baby Spencer we Aussies owe it big time to your Dad Beau and all the firefighters like him,” wrote Facebook user Robyn James. “You will grow up with pride knowing he is a Hero. They all are. Thank you for all the sacrifices made and everything done by you all and what you have endured during this crisis. You are all incredible.”
Since September, high temperatures and dry conditions have fueled the blazes, which have so far burned through more than 15.6 million acres, according to the BBC. Thousands of homes and buildings have been destroyed.
At least 27 people have died, USA Today reported, while about 1.25 billion animals are estimated to have died due to the blazes, according to the World Wildlife Fund. Thousands more are believed to be injured and homeless.