While firefighters — and a few very good dogs — scramble to get people and animals out of regions affected by Australia's devastating bushfires, there are a handful of residents that would die before they flee.
They trace their roots in the area to a time before humans, and even dinosaurs, roamed the land.
Besides, you can't exactly airlift a tree to safety.
So instead, rescue workers have come up with a new plan to save the ancient and incredibly rare Wollemi pines that were besieged by fire. Only about 200 of the pines, also known as "dinosaur trees" are around today, clustered in a national park in New South Wales. Their exact location has long been kept secret to keep them safe.
But bushfires don't discriminate. In New South Wales and Victoria — two of the hardest hit states — at least 28 people have died, along with millions of animals, according to CNN.
After 90 million years on this planet — a tenure that has seen their numbers dwindle from an estimated 34 million to a meager 200 today — the Wollemi pines faced the prospect of a fiery end.
That is until humans stepped in.
Instead of a rescue operation, a special contingent focused on fortifying the pines. According to the Australian Broadcasting Corporation, air tankers were dispatched this week to encircle the trees with fire retardant. An irrigation system was hastily dug around the grove. And since the trees occupy a slender canyon in the park, rescuers had to rappel into the area to ensure the ground remained wet.
"Wollemi National Park is the only place in the world where these trees are found in the wild and, with less than 200 left, we knew we needed to do everything we could to save them," New South Wales environment minister Matt Kean explained to CNN in a statement.
While much-needed rain began falling on parts of the parched continent this week, at least 100 bush fires continue to smolder dangerously. And while rain may dampen the bush fires, it also raises the specter of dangerous flooding.
The Wollemi pines will likely live through this. In their 90 million years on this planet, the trees, which can grow up to 130 feet tall, have born witness to many a catastrophe. But this may be the first time they've needed a hand from humans.
"This is a key asset, not only for the national parks, but for our entire country," Kean said in an interview with the Australian Broadcasting Corporation.
But, as the perils of climate change become more apparent — researchers say it's the reason why normally occurring wildfires are more widespread and destructive — this may not be the last time they need our help.
"There is no precedent for the scale and speed at which these brushfires are spreading," Michael Mann, a climatologist at Penn State University, tells Mother Jones. "It's almost like we're being given a vision for our future if we don't act on climate."