Dog trapped in burning vehicle in Merced now safe, thanks to quick-thinking Amazon driver

Andrew Kuhn/

An Amazon delivery driver is being called a hero after he helped save a dog from a car fire in Merced.

Delivery driver Ervin Ruhe Jr., 49, of Modesto, had just helped a colleague finish deliveries for the day. He was headed back to the delivery station when he came across a vehicle on fire on the side of the road near West 16th Street and Highway 99 last Monday evening.

Ruhe said he saw a man helping his wife to the side of the road from the burning vehicle. Ruhe said he thought he would be a good citizen and help, so he stopped and grabbed the emergency fire extinguisher from his delivery vehicle.

“It didn’t look like it was too bad yet but I was just hoping nobody was inside,” said Ruhe “I just wanted to try and help out if I was able to,” he said.

According to Ruhe, he used the fire extinguisher and did what he could to knock down the flames coming from the battery area in the engine compartment. While doing so, that’s when he heard someone saying “our dog’s inside, our dog’s inside!”

Ruhe reached inside the vehicle from the passenger side door to unlock the rear passenger door. Ruhe said the man was then able to open the rear door and grab the dog. Everyone rushed off to the side before the flames intensified.

Ruhe called 911 and the dispatcher told him a fire truck was already on the way. “Once I hung up the phone I could hear the sirens coming,” said Ruhe

After helping the couple and their dog, Ruhe told them he was glad they were OK, before getting back in his vehicle and heading to the delivery station in the Manteca/Lathrop area.

This was not the first time Ruhe used the emergency fire extinguisher aboard the delivery vehicle. Ruhe said he used it once before when he stopped to help a farmer out in a field in the Atwater area.

In that incident, Ruhe saw a man trying to fill a bucket with water from a ditch as a piece of equipment, possibly a generator or water pump, was on fire in a field. According to Ruhe, he grabbed the fire extinguisher and was able to extinguish the equipment fire burning near tall grass and gas cans.

Ruhe has been a delivery driver for about four years and said he enjoys his job delivering packages, as it gives him a chance to listen to podcasts while he works.

“We are very grateful of Ervin for going above and beyond and helping out a community member and their pet while in distress,” said Navneet Kaur, senior regional manager, Amazon Delivery Station, according to a news release. ”It’s amazing to witness the ownership and willingness to go above and beyond to help someone in need,” said Kaur.

Ruhe said he hopes more people would step up and try to help others rather than just looking on and taking pictures or video. “I just felt I just wanted to be a good citizen and help out,” Ruhe said.

According to Natalie Banke with Amazon’s workplace public relations, Ruhe is already recognized by the company as a top driver in the area and the company plans to further recognize him for his efforts to help save the dog.