Generally, if you see a massive forest fire coming up on the horizon, it’s probably best to turn around and drive back the way you came.
However, mobile phone footage captured the moment one family did very much the opposite and found themselves right at the heart of a blaze in southern California.
Maaike Maks and her family were visiting the U.S. from the Netherlands and thought they were a safe distance from the Solimar wildfire which was raging alongside the freeway on the evening of Christmas Day.
— Maaike M. (@MaaikeMaks) December 26, 2015
Instead, they suddenly found themselves at the centre of the furnace.
The video footage, uploaded to Maaike’s Twitter page, shows just how scary the moment was.
It looks like something straight out of an action or Sci-Fi movie, with huge flames all around them and flying torches bouncing off the windshield, like they’re driving through the depths of Hell itself.
Unsurprisingly, the family found the strange festive experience very scary indeed.
— LACoFireAirOps (@LACoFireAirOps) December 26, 2015
Speaking to CNN, Maaike said:
We didn’t realise it was this big and frightening. There was nobody stopping us on the highway as we got closer and closer, so we thought it was totally safe for us to drive past it. As we started getting closer, I decided to record the fire we saw next to us, as I had never seen this before.
Then all of a sudden, all these sparks and a burning bush hit our car, and we couldn’t see anything of what was around us because of all the smoke. I was terrified and in a total shock. In the end, it only took a few seconds, but it felt like an hour. It was terrifying. We were very lucky. In a worst-case scenario, our car could have exploded.
Yesterday, Reuters reported that the huge wildfire had burned through more than 1,200 acres of land, with 600 firefighters battling to contain it. It could be days before the blaze is under control, although at least the roads were eventually closed and no injuries (or worse) have yet been reported.