The western half of the United States—and specifically the Pacific Northwest—is currently burning away to nothing, no thanks to California’s policy of, uhh, diverting water into the ocean or something. Major fires are right now burning in Northern California, Oregon, Washington, Idaho, and western Montana. One particularly fast-moving fire is ravaging its way through Glacier National Park, in Montana, where it very nearly cooked up an extremely lucky father-son hiking duo.
Justin Bilton shared his story with the Boston Globe Monday, and it is terrifying. Justin and his 70-year-old father were on a hiking and camping trip off of Lake McDonald Road in Glacier Park when smoke and heat from what had recently been “a small fire, by Montana standards” began moving quickly in their direction, eventually producing enough heat and smoke that they had to get the fuck out of there. That is when this happened:
“It was an inferno. It was just walls of flames on both sides of the car,” he said. “The car started getting hot really fast. It felt like it was a 100-degree day, and your car had been sitting in the parking lot all day.”
Holy shiiiiiiiiiiiit. That panicking voice you hear in the video—and I am offering absolutely no judgment, here, because I would’ve shit my heart out and died whole minutes earlier—is Justin, driving the car into what appears to be literal hell. The situation is already incredibly fucking dire before their melting car comes upon a burning tree fallen across their only road to safety. The video cuts off here, with the two evidently doomed to an excruciating death.
“I saw that and I thought we were going to die,” Justin said. “I thought we were trapped, there was no way we could turn around on the road.”
With his father’s guidance, Justin kicked the car into reverse and drove the vehicle all the way back to the trailhead at the end of the road. At times, Justin said, he was going as fast as 40 miles per hour.
They were somehow able to reverse their rental car back through the burning hellscape through which they had arrived at that point of imminent death, and made it back to the shore of the nearby lake. Great! Love to drown in a lake or burn in a fire with no conceivable third option. But then another stroke of unbelievable luck fell their way:
That’s when they saw a small boat floating on Lake McDonald, with two people on board.
“We flagged them down and they came over and grabbed us, and we got onto the boat,” said Justin. “Ten minutes later, we were on the water and we saw the whole part of the lake shore where we had been standing just go up in flames.”
Click through to the Boston Globe article for a breathtaking photo of the burning shore, taken by Justin from the boat that was whisking him and his father away to safety. Fire is scarier than both the ocean and outer space.