Firefighter adopts dog rescued from Mendocino fire

Utah firefighter Patrick Cullen came to California to battle a massive wildfire.

"We didn`t go to California looking for a dog," he said. 

Cullen had been in Mendocino County for about four days. It was the middle of night when he heard something in the dark.

"I was running the pump at the engine.  Kind of hear something or feel something and all you see is a few eyes and I thought oh me and a lion mountain. This will be fun." 

 What he thought was a mountain lion, was a German Shepherd dog.

"There was a mud puddle there that he was pawing at for water. So I gave him some water, a couple bottles of water and he slept under the engine for the next few hours." 

The firefighters began calling the dog "Mendo" after the Mendocino Complex fires they were fighting. 

It was too dangerous to hold on to Mendo while they were on the fire lines, so they handed the dog over to the Mendocino Animal Shelter, along with Cullen's phone number. 

"If by some chance you don`t find anybody, I doubt you wont, or someone won't come forward, here`s my number," he told them. 

The Mendocino Animal Shelter tried to find his owner but when nobody came forward, they contacted Cullen. 

"It was so heartwarming and Mendo recognized Patrick right away and there was no doubt that this was truly truly meant to be," said shelter volunteer Chandra Brouilette.

Adopting Mendo was particularly emotional for the Utah fire crew, who lost one of their own while fighting the fire.  Cullen tearfully recalled the the loss of Battalion Chief Matt Burchett.

"I know he saw him and I know we talked about it," Cullen said referring to Burchett and Mendo. "Oh you know we`re going to bring home an extra crew member," Burchett had said to Cullen. 

The Draper City Fire Department never expected to come home one crew member short. But now their journey to California can also be associated with a new beginning.