Man recounts harrowing escape from Glacier NP fire

Posted at 10:19 AM, Aug 20, 2018
and last updated 2018-08-20 12:19:40-04

New evacuations were issued Sunday at Glacier National Park as firefighters race to contain the fast-moving Howe Ridge fire.

Video shows a Justin Bilton and and his father’s desperate attempt to escape the flames last week when the blaze first broke out. 

Dad: "I think we can drive through this"

Justin: "What?"

Dad: "Holy achin’ s***!"

Surrounded by towering flames, Justin and his father frantically tried to escape.

Justin: "Dad this is insane."

Dad: "I know. You don’t wanna get trapped in here"

Panic was evident in Justin’s voice on video as he navigated his car down a narrow mountain trail.

Dad: "You can’t see, just go easy now. Easy!"

Justin: "Dad the car is heating up, it’s gonna explode!

Dad: "We’re alright"

Justin: "Jesus god, help us."

"To see the flames that big and for that far was absolutely terrifying. It was unearthly. It was like driving into hell," Justin said.

Mobile viewers click here to view a photo gallery from the Howe Ridge fire.

Justin said he feared for his life as the dark smoke made seeing the road nearly impossible and then a fallen tree blocked their one way out.

Dad: "Good, you’re doin good."

Justin: "Oh my god"

Dad: "Oh s***"

Justin: "We can’t get out!"

"Once we got to that down tree, you know my heart just dropped and that’s when I felt we were dead," Justin said. "I thought there was no way we’d get back up through what we’d just come through."

Bilton put the car in reverse and drove back to their lakeside campsite where they flagged down a boat.

The car was later destroyed in the fire.

"I just know that we were lucky," Justin said. "Maybe there’s some higher power that has a purpose for me and my dad here."

Both Justin and his father didn’t suffer any injuries from the incident.

The Howe Ridge fire is still growing and has now burned more than 7,800 acres with fire officials saying they don’t expect it to be fully contained until November.