MCKENZIE BRIDGE, Ore. - Robert Noble took his son Parker to Terwilliger Hot Springs on Sunday, sharing a place he's been visiting for over 20 years.
“It was wonderful," the Springfield man said of the visit to the springs, sometimes called Cougar Hot Springs after the nearby reservoir. "The sun was shining, everything was going great."
As they relaxed in the thermal pools, someone came up and told the 20 or so people there that they needed to get out.
“The next thing I know we’re running for or lives," Noble said. "Just like that”
The forest was on fire.
“We just jumped up out of the pool and grabbed our stuff and started running down the trail," Noble said. “We could see we were running into a forest fire."
“The fire was really big," his son said.
The Nobles held towels over their faces and ran down the trail back to their car.
“I said, 'Hold my hand and don’t let go,' and we just ran as fast as we could through the burning forest. I mean it was just intense, it was so insane," Noble said, describing 4-foot-tall flames. “I looked back one time and you could just see the flames arching over and catching the other side of the trail on fire, it was just going so fast."
Noble and his son reached the parking lot and got out of there.
“The angle of that mountain and how quickly the fire was going, I knew it was going to get big," he said. “I figure I probably took the last picture ever taken at Cougar Hot Springs.”
The fire quickly burned across 100 acres. Firefighters continued their initial attack on Monday, attempting to limit the fire's spread.
Noble and his son escaped unharmed.
“My focus was just lasered in on, 'I have got to get my kid off this mountain',” he said. “For the first time in my life I didn’t know if we were going to make it. I honestly wasn’t sure if we were gonna make it or not.”
Forest Service officials said the public should avoid the area, but that everyone got out OK on Sunday.
“I don’t know how that other couple got through that," Noble said. "I mean they had to have run through a wall of flames. It was wild."