Less than a year after parts of Southern California were consumed by one of the largest wildfires in state history, residents are once again battling the elements. Stories of horrific damage from the recent and ongoing fires have emerged, but thankfully there are also stories of courageous individuals stepping up to help. One such person is Allyn Pierce, a nurse whose truck melted after he drove back into the fire to help patients.
According to a Twitter thread from New York Times reporter Jack Nicas, Pierce manages the ICU at Adventist Health in Paradise, a Northern California town that has been largely destroyed by the massive Camp Fire. As the fire headed toward the hospital, Pierce and two colleagues tried to evacuate, but they ended up stuck in the middle of the flames. Pierce even recorded a farewell message to his family as he watched the cars around him catch fire. Miraculously, Pierce escaped…but he then decided to turn back to help others.
Nicas shared pictures of his truck, warped from the heat of the fire, noting that the headlights still work.
Back in the town, Pierce found injured citizens who needed to evacuate. Together with other doctors, nurses, and hospital staff, he got to work establishing a triage center in the Adventist Health parking lot. Later, when the fire progressed, they moved patients to the hospital’s helipad. Because of the actions of Pierce and the other hospital workers, all patients were transported to safety. But Pierce doesn’t think of himself as a hero.
Despite his humility, Pierce’s bravery did not go unnoticed. The nurse posted a photo of his charred truck to Instagram, and before long, Toyota USA commented with an offer to replace it.
NPR reported today, November 13th, that the Camp Fire has claimed the lives of 42 people, making it the deadliest fire in state history. It is currently 30 percent contained and has burned 125,000 acres. The Woolsey Fire in Southern California has burned 96, 314 acres and is 35 percent contained.
The devastation wrought by these fires is horrific, but Pierce—and all emergency responders—are genuine heroes. If you want to help those affected by the wildfires, you can donate to one of the organizations here.