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Firefighters Encounter Bear When Attempting to Rescue Dog From Deep Cave System

The Realblog with Stephanie Mallory

Firefighters Encounter Bear When Attempting to Rescue Dog From Deep Cave System

Posted 2023-10-27  by  Stephanie Mallory

The rescuers waited for the bear to leave the cave before retrieving the dog

Firefighters attempting the rescue of a dog trapped deep in a Tennessee cave discovered the pooch wasn’t alone. During their decent into the cave, they encountered a sleeping black bear.

According to, the dog named Charlie spent three days trapped almost 40 feet deep in an “extremely narrow cave shaft” on English Mountain in eastern Tennessee.

A Facebook post from the Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Department stated a team consisting of rope rescue technicians from several fire departments hiked to the mouth of the cave on Tuesday, October, 10, 2023. When firefighter Tori Downing and captain Jon Lanier descended into the cave, they discovered the bear.

“Things took a turn when firefighter Downing rounded a corner and found a bear sleeping five feet below her and the trapped hunting dog farther in the cave system,” reads the Facebook post.

According to Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Department, the black bear weighed an estimated 200 pounds.

The rescue team left the cave and set up trail cameras to determine when the bear left the cave. On Wednesday, after cameras provided images showing the bear had left, three firefighters descended into the cave on a rope system.

“At first, we actually thought the dog had slipped further into the cave, where we couldn’t access,” Lanier said, according to CNN affiliate WVLT. “It was kinda sad because we felt like we were gonna have to leave the dog there.”

“As we’re about to head back out, I looked back one more time and I saw his antenna from his tracker collar,” another firefighter, Christian Ellard, said.

The rescue team pulled Charlie out using ropes and a harness and quickly reunited him with his owner.

The Waldens Creek Volunteer Fire Department said Charlie was in good condition despite being dehydrated and hungry.

“It was definitely a sigh of relief for everybody on scene,” said Andrew Wojturski, a firefighter with Sevier County Fire & Rescue, according to WVLT. “And then once we finally got him out and the owner came up afterwards and shook our hands and thanked us, it was really rewarding.”

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