A California nurse will receive a new Toyota Tundra after using the vehicle to drive others to safety from the deadliest wildfire in the state’s history.
The Camp Fire, named after its origin Camp Creek Road in Butte County, Northern California started on Nov. 8 and has since claimed 48 lives, burned 130,000 acres (53,000 hectares), and destroyed at least 8,800 structures.
The nurse identified as Alynn Pierce, took to Instagram to share that his Toyota Tundra — which he affectionately calls “the Pandra” — literally saved lives in Paradise, one of the most severely-affected towns in Butte County.
“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.”
The fire reportedly spread so quickly that many failed to evacuate in time. In Paradise, more than 27,000 were forced to leave their homes, USA Today reported.
“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,” Pierce said.
According to The New York Times, Pierce was helping with evacuations at his local hospital when burning debris trapped him on the road.
While a bulldozer arrived to clear the path, he drove back through the flames to help people who just came to the hospital.
“Allyn held his coat against the window – a futile guard from the intense heat – and put on Peter Gabriel’s ‘In Your Eyes’ to calm himself,” reporter Jack Nicas wrote on Twitter. “He recorded a goodbye message to his family: ‘Just in case this doesn’t work out, I want you to know I really tried to make it out.’”
“Suddenly a bulldozer appeared & knocked a burning truck next to him out of the way. There was some room to maneuver. But instead of going forward toward safety, he turned around and drove back into the heart of Paradise.”
Pierce’s heroic act torched his Tundra, but Toyota discovered his story and offered to replace it.
“We are humbled you’d risk your life and Toyota Tundra to drive people to safety,” Toyota said. “Don’t worry about your truck, we’re honored to get you a new one!”
The news quickly touched netizens who proclaimed Pierce as a hero and praised Toyota for recognizing his selfless act.
A GoFundMe campaign was also started to help Pierce’s family recover from what is now considered the most destructive wildfire in California’s history. As of Nov. 14, the fundraiser collected over $21,000, exceeding its $15,000 goal.