“I do think it was some kind of higher power looking out for us. It seems like it wasn’t our time to go.”
When a person makes a statement like that, you’re pretty much inclined to just take his word for it. But the above quote from Boston native Justin Bilton takes on so much more meaning after watching this shocking footage of he and his 70-year-old father’s miraculous escaping from a raging Montana wildfire back in mid-August 2018.
As Justin Bilton later recounted, the terrifying incident was all set into motion when he and his father decided that their last stop on a backpacking trip through Montana and Wyoming would be Glacier National Park. Park rangers had warned the Biltons that there would be a high probability of lightning storms, but that these storms would likely present minimal safety risks.
That night, the Biltons decided to set up camp at Lake McDonald, but the next day, they noticed a billowing cloud of smoke had slowly started to spread. It turned out that lightening had struck, causing the Howe Ridge Fire. That fire would rage until November 3, ultimately burning more than 14,000 acres and damaging 13 residences and 14 more minor structures
“I just had a bad feeling about it, and I was like ‘Dad, I think we need to get out of here,'” Bilton told WLDH.
That’s when Justin Bilton and his dad hopped into their rental Subaru Legacy and made their way through the blaze, which the dramatic video above shows.
While the footage cuts out during a precarious part in their journey, what we don’t see is Justin convincing his dad to get back into rental the car and him actually reversing the car back up the path, before the two of them ran back down to Lake McDonald and flagged down a passing boat.
According to Bilton, 10 minutes after he and his dad were rescued, both the campsite and the Subaru were completely consumed by the flames. When it comes to close brushes with death, it really doesn’t get much closer than that.
This post was originally published on August 21, 2018.