Rocklin Fire Battalion Chief Shawn Watkins thought he heard cats fighting outside his station before he went to bed Monday night. He didn't think anything of it until he woke up hungry at midnight and walked to the station's kitchen to grab a bite to eat.
"He obviously didn't see it on the first pass," Fellow Battalion Chief Kurt Snyder told News10.
Watkins didn't a baby, right outside two French doors, as he walked to the kitchen.
But then he heard another noise, and this time Watkins was sure it was a baby crying.
Outside those French doors, Watkins found a newborn boy that someone left swaddled inside a wooden box.
"He went and woke up the captain, so he has someone else with him, and they went out and they got the baby," Snyder said. "The baby was very healthy."
That was fortunate considering temperatures dipped into the 50s, and there have been coyote sightings in Rocklin in the past.
It's unknown to fire and police officials who left the baby. They also do not know who the parents are.
But, they are certain the person who left the infant did not abide by California's Safely Surrendered Baby Law.
The law states: "...anyone with lawful custody can safely surrender a baby confidentially and without fear of prosecution..."
Rocklin Police Captain Lon Milka said this is abandonment, not a safe and legal surrender.
"They have to leave it with a person, so that it's not subjected to the elements," Mika explained.
A fear of legal ramifications could make parents think twice about surrendering a baby in person. But the law protects legal guardians from prosecution and protects the parents' identities.
"You don't have to give any details if you don't want to - just that the baby has to be within 72 hours of age," Milka said.
Hospital employees, police and firefighters also want to ask anyone who surrenders an infant a series of questions so they can treat congenital medical issues that might arise or take care of immediate needs because of a mother's drug or alcohol abuse during pregnancy.
The baby boy left at the fire station back door is doing well. He is now in the custody of California Child Protective Services.
But, the parents could face legal problems and a charge of child abandonment because they did not hand the baby boy to someone in person.