The Mishnah states that if a fire breaks out on Shabbat, one is permitted to save enough food for three meals – that is, three human meals and meals for the animals.
That is conditional, however, on the time of day. This is – how many meals are left before the end of Shabbat. For example, if it is Shabbat evening before the meal – three meals worth of food may be saved. In the morning, two and the afternoon only one. (R. Jose disagrees and allows three meals at all times).
The rabbis discuss this and wonder why there are even any restrictions. After all, food can be carried on the Shabbat and if it is brought out into a permitted area (an eruv) why limit? It is a preventative measure:
Said Raba: Since a man is excited over his property, if you permit him [to save more], he may come to extinguish [the fire].
Our Rabbis taught: If one forgets a loaf in an oven, and the day becomes holy upon him, food for three meals may be saved, and he may say to others, 'Come and save for yourselves.'
That is – 3 meals for himself and 3 meals for anyone else who wants to take.
And when he removes [the bread], he must not remove it with a baker’s shovel (mardeh) but with a knife.
As much as is possible to vary (it) we do so.