Saugus natives narrowly escape Montana wildfire

Two Saugus natives narrowly escaped death when they were trapped in a fast-moving wildfire in Montana.

“It was like the coals at the bottom of your campfire. The whole forest was just embers,” said Justin Bilton.

Bilton and his 70-year-old father were backpacking through Wyoming and Montana. The two set up camp at their last stop in Glacier National Park. At the time, there was no threat.

“They told us that they expected some lightning storms during the night and that conditions were dry but there was no fire,” Bilton said.

The next day, they noticed a lightning strike had started a small fire. But in a matter of hours, the flames grew out of control.

“I just had a bad feeling about it, and I was like ‘Dad, I think we need to get out of here,'” Bilton said.

Bilton and his father jumped into their rental car, trying to escape, but there was no way out.

“It was just like a firestorm,” Bilton said. “There’s like embers blowing. There’s trees completely on fire.”

They drove through the flames until they reached a lake. Luckily, there was a small boat with two people on it. They flagged it down to finally get away from the flames.

“We looked back and just saw the whole lakeshore where we had been maybe 10-15 minutes before just completely go up in flames,” Bilton said.

Looking back, Bilton said he doesn’t know how they survived.

“I do think it was some kind of higher power looking out for us,” he said. “It seems like it wasn’t our time to go.”

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