A heroic nurse in California drove his truck through raging wildfires to help save people’s lives, despite the fact it was literally melting around him.
Allyn Pierce works as manager of the ICU at Adventist Health hospital in Paradise, California. The town was ravaged the Camp Fire, the wildfire tearing through the north of the state.
Thousands of Paradise’s buildings were completely destroyed, including homes, businesses and schools.
According to CNN, 56 people have now lost their lives to the terrifying fires sweeping the state, while 130 people are still unaccounted for. The majority of the missing are in Paradise.
The entire town was evacuated last Thursday (November 8), a decision which Allyn reportedly helped initiate.
His story was shared on Twitter by New York Times reporter Jack Nicas, who explained following the evacuation order, Allyn jumped in his truck along with two colleagues and headed for safety.
Jack shared a thread of tweets, which began:
Here’s the crazy story of just one of the many heroes in Paradise, the town destroyed by California’s deadliest fire ever. His name is Allyn Pierce, and he’s the badass nurse who drove this truck through the flames.
Here's the crazy story of just one of the many heroes in Paradise, the town destroyed by California's deadliest fire ever. His name is Allyn Pierce, and he's the badass nurse who drove this truck through the flames. pic.twitter.com/xAL7zRf34H
— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) November 13, 2018
As the town was in the midst of hurried evacuation, Allyn got stuck in gridlocked traffic right in the vicinity of the fire. Other cars around his began to catch fire, and flames began to creep up his truck.
He held his jacket up to the window in an attempt to block the heat and began to play Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes’ to try and keep himself calm.
The nurse believed he could die in the truck – to the extent he recorded a goodbye message to his family, saying:
Just in case this doesn’t work out, I want you to know I really tried to make it out.
Just in time, a bulldozer appeared near Allyn’s truck and knocked a neighbouring burning truck out of the way, giving Allyn some space to move his vehicle.
Instead of carrying on driving to safety, the heroic man turned back towards Paradise and headed to his hospital.
Jack reported Allyn realised injured Paradise residents were still at the hospital, desperately looking for medical help.
Explaining his thoughts at the time, the nurse said:
Now all of us are like, ‘Oh, this is what we do. We’re terrible at burning to death, but we’re amazing at taking care of people.’
Medical staff at the hospital created a triage centre in the medical facility’s car park, breaking into the building to arm themselves with gurneys, oxygen tanks and other equipment.
The doctors, nurses, paramedics and police helped take care of two dozen people while the Camp Fire burned around them, eventually engulfing the hospital itself.
The team relocated to the hospital’s helipad and managed to clear a path to safety, where they ushered victims into a caravan and got everyone out safely.
Allyn emphasised the rescue was a team effort, saying:
This is what we do. Any nurse, any healthcare worker, any cop, they were there and they all did their jobs.
He shared a picture of his melted truck to Instagram, writing how it had saved his life:
View this post on Instagram
Here's my @toyotausa commercial. This truck literally saved my life today. My little town of Paradise was literally burning down around me and @the_pandra got me to safety where I could help others…twice. #campfire #perfectmarshmellow #meltedplastics #buttecountyfire #sema2019 thanks to the fire fighters, law enforcement and my fellow healthcare workers for the work we all did getting the hospital evacuated and our patients to safety. 🤘🏼😔
Seeing the photo, Toyota acknowledged their vehicle was involved and said they’d be honoured to gift the nurse a new one:
— Jack Nicas (@jacknicas) November 13, 2018
Medical staff, police, firefighters and everyone else doing what they can to help the victims and stop the fire are incredible; our thoughts are with all those suffering.
If you have a story you want to tell, send it to [email protected]
Emily Brown first began delivering important news stories aged just 13, when she launched her career with a paper round. She graduated with a BA Hons in English Language in the Media from Lancaster University, and went on to become a freelance writer and blogger. Emily contributed to The Sunday Times Travel Magazine and Student Problems before becoming a journalist at UNILAD, where she works on breaking news as well as longer form features.