Justin Bilton and his 70-year-old father were finishing up a trip through Wyoming and Montana earlier this month when they set up came in Glacier National Park. But the father-son duo had no idea that their vacation would turn into a fight for their lives.
The day after setting up camp, Bilton and his father realized that a lightning strike had started a small fire, which eventually grew into a massive more than 7,500-acre blaze dubbed Howe Ridge Fire, according to KULR. With that, the pair jumped into their rental car and attempted to drive to safety.
“I just had a bad feeling about it, and I was like ‘Dad, I think we need to get out of here,’ ” Bilton told WHDH of the moments he and his father first spotted the small blaze. Soon, they were shocked by how much the fire had grown.
“It was just like a firestorm. There’s like embers blowing. There’s trees completely on fire,” Bilton continued to the station.
Footage of the incident shows the forest in flames as Bilton and his father made their way through the forest’s winding roads in a panic.
“Oh my God. Dad, the car is heating up. It’s gonna explode,” Bilton is heard saying in the video. “Jesus. God, help us. Dad, what if a tree falls on us. Dad, we can’t get out!”
Bilton told ABC News that the car’s headlights failed and he couldn’t see anything out of the back window. Still, he was able to drive in reverse, back the way they came.
They drove as far as they could through the flames until they reached a nearby lake, KRTV reports. There, they waved down two people with a small boat, and were rescued, according to the station.
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Bilton wrote about the incident in a now-deleted Facebook post, according to KRTV, noting that the car burned in the fire.
The fire sparked on Aug. 11, and the windy, dry conditions only fueled the fast-moving flames, the Great Falls Tribune reports. But Sunday, the fire had grown to more than 7,800 acres, destroying dozens of structures and prompting several evacuations and closures.
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