Francisco didn't find out about the fuss until he returned home at night. / SUR

This is the Malaga firefighter whose photo of the Sierra Bermeja fire went viral

The image of a burned mountain goat has travelled around the world on social media networks

JUAN SOTO

A photograph of a charred mountain goat next to a crash barrier at the scene of the Sierra Bermeja forest fire, went viral and travelled around the world on social media.

And now it has been revealed that it was taken by Francisco, a Malaga firefighter who works for Infoca, who snapped the image when he was heading to the Peñas Blancas area to tackle the blaze.

The injured ibex passed in front of him and he quickly pulled out his mobile phone to take two pictures. He passed them on to his work colleagues and his wife and, in a matter of hours, they went viral on all social media networks.

Focused on his work and oblivious to the virtual hustle and bustle, Francisco did not realise until he returned home at night. "When I opened Facebook and saw my photo everywhere I was amazed," he explained.

Since then he has been one of the most sought-after people on social media, although the the photo has been attributed to different people since last Sunday.

Blind and burned

Francisco said that the scene was captured on 11 September at 3.58pm, when he was in a Land Rover with six companions. The animal crossed in front of the vehicle and lay down next to the crash barrier. "It was blind and its whole face was burned from having gone through the burning bushes," he explained.

Unfortunately, the 33-year-old could not help it, since they were heading to tackle flames. "If we had stopped to help it, we would have lost valuable time putting out the fire and the damage could have been greater," he said regretfully.

Francisco admits that he is constantly taking photos with his phone for his personal album and to share them on social media. In the case of the injured animal, he took two photographs from different angles and a small video as the ibex crossed to the other side of the mountain.

Although it wasn’t intentional, his photograph has become one of the most significant pictures of the destruction of the mountains and the fauna of Malaga.