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Heroic Nurse Drives Truck Through California Wildfire to Help Save Lives, Goes Viral

“I just kept thinking, ‘I’m going to die in melting plastic.’”

California is currently being ravaged by a devastating wildfire that has already claimed the lives of 42 people. More than 7,100 structures, most of them homes, have been destroyed, and more than 200 people have been reported missing. Friends and family members of those missing are taking to social media to help find their loves ones, and President Trump is facing criticism for what many perceive as a weak response to the deadliest fire in the state's history.

In the wake of so much terror and loss, one man has committed an incredible act of bravery in an effort to save lives. According to New York Times reporter Jack Nicas, a nurse named Allyn Pierce drove straight through the raging flames in order to help set up a makeshift hospital.

Pierce manages the ICU at Adventist Health, a hospital in the town of Paradise, which has been virtually destroyed by the fire. After assisting with the evacuation of the hospital, he and two colleagues hopped in their truck and tried heading for safety, but quickly became engulfed in flames.

"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," Nicas wrote. "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.'"

"I was like, 'I think I'm done,'" Pierce told The New York Times. "I just kept thinking, 'I'm going to die in melting plastic.'"

Pierce got lucky. A bulldozer knocked a burning truck out of the way, and he managed to escape. But instead of heading for safety, he drove straight back to the hospital to help the injured.

There, doctors and nurses had set up a makeshift hospital in the parking lot, treating dozens of patients as the fire raged around them.

When the hospital caught fire, they managed to move everyone safely to the hospital's helipad.

In spite of the fact that these unbelievable efforts undoubtedly saved these people's lives, Pierce doesn't consider himself to be a hero. "This is what we do," he said. "Any nurse, any healthcare worker, any cop, they were there and they all did their jobs… We're terrible at burning to death, but we're amazing at taking care of people."

Pierce's family is one of many residents who lost their homes to the Camp Fire. To help them rebuild, you can donate to their GofundMe. And for another story that proves heroes walk among us every day, read about the time that Harrison Ford saved a woman in a car crash.

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Diana Bruk
Diana is a senior editor who writes about sex and relationships, modern dating trends, and health and wellness. Read more