Lola leads firefighters on a chase

It sounds like something out of a Monty Python sketch.

When firefighters were called out to rescue a pet that was stuck in a tree, instead of the stereotypical scaredy cat they were faced with an avian adventurer named Lola.

A bright red female eclectus parrot, Lola flew out of Suzette Fish's Costa Mesa home when a back door was accidentally left open last weekend.

Fish was distraught after the 13-year-old bird, a beloved family pet, went missing for 48 hours.

To her rescue were Costa Mesa firefighters who responded twice after the bird was found high atop a palm tree on Capital Street in Costa Mesa, bringing out a 100-foot ladder, in an attempt to rescue the bird.

"I never imagined that [the Fire Department] would really respond to a call for a stranded parrot," Fish said. "I couldn't believe it when two fire trucks and eight firemen came putting a ladder up the tree."

Despite popular firefighter and cat-stuck-in-the-tree stories, the Costa Mesa Fire Department does not typically rescue pets stuck in trees nor is it easy to pull out the department's only 56-foot long tiller truck which holds a 100-foot, 360-degree turning, eight-story ladder.

Truck No. 83, the biggest in the department, is so long that it requires two engineers to maneuver it along surface streets with one driver up front and the other in the rear controlling the back end of the truck.

"Normally with the whole cat-got-stuck-in-the-tree, the cat eventually comes down," said Jeremy Jimenez, Truck No. 83's unofficial ladder climber. "I'm the worker bee who gets to do the fun stuff."

Jimenez and his team also used the tiller truck in April to rescue a repairman who got stuck next to a large beehive when his lift broke, causing him to get stung repeatedly.

In case of a fire in a tall building, the tiller truck and its ladder could be essential in saving lives but being 100 feet off the ground is dangerous and requires weekly practice runs and check ups, Jimenez said.

"Besides being a great workout, it's good to be comfortable that high up," said Jimenez, a Fountain Valley resident and firefighter for more than six years.

Despite the Fire Department's efforts, Lola flew away by the time Jimenez — seeds and other treats in hand — made the trek up the ladder into the palm trees.

"I got about two or three feet close to the bird," he said. "Being a bird there was a high likelihood it would fly away and that's what it did."

Fish, with the help of friend Irma Fisher, began a relentless search, making posters and looking high and low for Lola to no avail.

On Monday morning, Fish finally received word that Lola had been found at the Costa Mesa Golf Course and was en route to the local humane society.

Despite a few ruffled feathers, Lola is doing fine and happy back at home, Fish said.

"For me the true lesson of this nightmare is that there are people so devoted and loving out there," Fish said.

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