Mini horse seen in viral photo hitches ride to safety during California wildfires

Viral picture shows Stardust in the back seat of  Lauren Mesaros' vehicle.

Lisette Hall Frye via CBS San Francisco

SANTA ROSA, Calif. -- Lauren Mesaros didn't have much time to think about how she was going to save her beloved miniature horse Stardust when the flames of the deadly Tubbs fire were bearing down on her property.

She grabbed a carrot, opened the back door of her Honda and Stardust jumped in, CBS San Francisco writes.

"Truthfully, we didn't even think about whether he would fit or not," she told the station. "We said, 'We got to go' — so we opened the two back doors, I stood at one end with a carrot and my friend Carol was behind him. As soon as he saw the carrot, he jumped into the back seat."

Mesaros had been trapped on her property until early Monday morning last week, when she knew she just had to leave.

"Sunday night to Monday morning was the worst part of the fire," she said. "We weren't able to get out because Francisco Ave. was pretty much on fire… I moved my horses down the road to a friends pasture and we waited it out."

"So the next morning when I realized things were dangerous, I called my friend Carol who has a two-horse trailer. We loaded up the two mares but looked at the mini-horse and wonder what are we going to do with him."

Meraros said once she drove off with the horse in the back of the car, she started to sing to him to calm him down.

"It's a 30-minute drive (to a ranch that was safe)," she said. "I knew I had to keep calm ... he was calmer than I was."

A photo snapped of the horse in the backseat went viral on social media.

Stardust was relaxed Tuesday back in his pasture, but Meraros said she'll have a lingering reminder of the escape.

"My Honda will never smell the same again," she said.