Even as nurse Alynn Pierce thought he was going to “die in melted plastic,” he revved his truck and took it back into the searing flames of the Camp Fire to help the patients who were in danger, the New York Times reported.
He made it out alive — but his Toyota Tundra took some serious damage. A photo he posted on Instagram showed the side mirror twisted and melted from the heat and the side doors scorched to a deep black.
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“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,” Pierce wrote on Instagram. “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, a nurse, helped with an evacuation of the Paradise hospital he worked at and drove off with some colleagues, but became trapped by burning debris in the road, according to the New York Times. A bulldozer came to clear a path, but Pierce turned back around and drove through the flames again to help the people who had newly arrived at the hospital for help, reporter Jack Nicas wrote on Twitter.
The car may have saved his life, but it also doesn’t look especially drivable anymore. But Pierce shouldn’t need to worry: Toyota found the post and offered to buy him a brand new truck.
“We are humbled you’d risk your life and Toyota Tundra to drive people to safety,” Toyota wrote. “Don’t worry about your truck, we’re honored to get you a new one!”
A GoFundMe campaign was also started to help Pierce and his family deal with the aftermath of the fire, which has raged across the area and burned thousands of homes.
“I struggled posting this, but with my house gone and my hospital ... I don’t know where my job sits. I’m gonna swallow my pride and post this GoFundMe that a kind person in Chico set up for us,” Pierce wrote on Facebook. “This is only for those that want to donate. We will be fine, it will all work out, because if has to.”
The Camp Fire is now the deadliest fire in California’s history and has killed 42 people as of Tuesday afternoon, McClatchy previously reported. It had burned 117,000 acres and destroyed 6,453 homes, according to Cal Fire.