See why photo of Australian firefighter and his newborn has gone viral

He had just returned from working an intense 21-hour shift.

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/ Source: TODAY
By Rachel Paula Abrahamson

As fires continue to ravage Australia, an image of a volunteer firefighter holding his newborn baby is touching hearts all over the world.

Photographers Kurtis and Charlyne Hickling captured the moment between Beau Haines and son, Spencer, who was born on Christmas.

“You could see the love,” Kurtis Hickling told TODAY Parents. “Beau was emotional and exhausted from working a 20-hour shift and just so glad to be home with his family."

Kurtis and Charlyne Hickling understand what the new dad is going through. The couple are parents and have been firefighters for more than 17 years.

“It’s so important for these heroes to make it home to their families,” Kurtis Hickling said, noting that Haines is slated to return to duty at the end of this week.

After the picture was shared to the Hickling Photography Facebook page, it quickly racked up thousands of likes and shares

“This pic represents the wonderful work our firefighters are continuing to do and the innocence they are protecting to the best of their ability!!!” wrote one person.

Added another, “Congratulations mate. And a massive thank you to you and all who are battling these fires. You guys are legends and all of Australia’s heroes.”

At least 24 people have died, more than 12 million acres have been scorched and roughly 2,000 homes destroyed since the fires began in September. The blazes were fueled by extreme heat and prolonged drought.

An estimated half a billion animals have died in the fires, according to ecologists at the University of Sydney.

The Hicklings wrote on Facebook that their photograph is dedicated to "all the men and women who are tirelessly battling these blazes to preserve and protect property and lives.

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