In 2018, California suffered devastation when raging wildfires claimed millions of acres of forests, residences, and business complexes. Death tolls rose as people around the world wondered if authorities would ever get the flames under control.
Meanwhile, Allyn Pierce of Paradise, California, spent his days working in the ICU, but when the wildfires approached his hospital he had a decision to make: he could either flee and hopefully save his own life, or stay to help others…
2018 has proven to be one of the most deadly years in California’s history because of the devastating wildfires that have been sweeping the sunshine state. They are one of the most dangerous natural disasters and destroy everything in their path.
Sadly, the death toll keeps rising and the list of people missing is getting longer. Since the start of 2018, 7,579 fires have broken out across the state and over 1.6 million acres of the landscape have been scorched.
On November 8, 2018, a fire broke out, in Butte County located in Northern California. It burned for over a week and has been named the most deadly wildfire in California history.
The origin of the fire is still unknown and under investigation, but the priority right now is containing the fire and rescuing and identifying as many people as humanly possible. That’s where the California Hotshots come in.
The California Hotshots stand at the front lines when a wildfire breaks out. They are a highly trained group of people who work tirelessly to contain wildfires. But they aren’t the only ones fighting wildfires…
One man took it upon himself to become an honorary hotshot. Allyn Pierce is an ICU manager and nurse at Adventist Health in Paradise, California. On a daily basis, Allyn works with the critically ill who enter the hospital.
When word got out that the fire was spreading quickly and there wasn’t much time left., Allyn helped initiate a swift evacuation of the ICU patients and staff at Adventist Health.
Following the evacuation, Allyn jumped in his Toyota Tundra truck and started driving to safety. The area was hectic with people frantically trying to escape the flames. Allyn didn’t get far before he hit a gridlock.
The traffic was at a complete standstill and Allyn could see the fire moving closer. Allyn could see that the flames were consuming the cars surrounding him. He started to realize that he wasn’t going to make it out of there alive.
In an effort to protect himself for as long as he could, he held his coat up to the window as he could feel the intense heat against the glass. He then put the song “In Your Eyes” by Peter Gabriel on to try and calm himself.
At that moment, Allyn knew that his final moments were upon him. He took out his phone and began recording 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.”
Then by some act of God, a bulldozer came out of nowhere and pushed the burning truck next to him out of the way. Allyn was granted the little bit of room he needed to maneuver out of the way. He put the car in drive…
Instead of leaving the danger zone and driving home to safety, he made a stunning decision. He turned around and drove back to the center of Paradise, California in his Tundra, already scorched by the fire.
When Allyn returned to his hospital and it was absolute chaos. Like out of a scene in a movie, Allyn saw injured people rushing to the hospital doors desperately seeking medical attention.
Allyn recalled, “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.” He knew that he was where he needed to be and that if anyone could help these poor people, it was him.
The remaining emergency professionals started to form a makeshift medical center in the parking lot. People started breaking into the medical center to grab any supplies that they possibly could.
They started to treat about two dozen patients and more followed. They worked as fast as they could as the flames grew in the distance. In seemingly no time at all, the hospital was consumed by the wildfire.
The brave medical staff that stayed behind quickly rounded up all of the injured and ran to the hospital’s helipad 100 yards away. Thankfully, authorities were in the area and were working to clear a path for the victims.
They were able to get a caravan running in time to drive everyone to safety. Allyn wanted to stress that the heroism that day was a group effort. He stated, “This is what we do. Any nurse, any healthcare worker, any cop, they were there and they all did their jobs.”
The workers, including Allyn, lost everything to the fire but they still had their lives. No one can imagine the pure devastation California and its residents suffer during wildfires, but when there is darkness, there is also light.
Toyota heard about Allyn and the staff’s heroic actions and wanted to do something to bring some good out of a tragic series of events.
Toyota tweeted, “We are humbled you’d risk your life and Toyota Tundra to drive people to safety. Don’t worry about your truck, we’re honored to get you a new one.”
The California wildfires flash on and off our news screen every so often, but they continually burn and claim victims every day. Please consider donating to the American Red Cross and the California Community Foundation’s Wildfire Relief Fund. Every bit helps.