Stranded Woman Gives Birth, Starts Forest Fire To Signal Aid

Indrani Sengupta
Step aside, John McClane. You're not nearly as hardcore as this new mom, who gave birth alone, lost in a forest, which she then set on fire in order to get her baby to safety.

Amber Pangborn was driving in south Oroville, San Francisco, when she started going into labor. So she decided to go up the highway, and take a connecting road to her parents' house.

Alone and on the verge of giving birth, she sought a shortcut.

“I was told about this back road and people had shown it to me a few times but I'd never driven it myself.”

But her would-be timesaver turned into four grueling days of wandering, desperately seeking help.

South Oroville

On her way to her parents' house, Pangborn lost cell phone service. Next, her car ran out of gas.

Remember, she was in labor this whole time, as complication after complication arose.

At 5am on Thursday, Pangborn gave birth to a baby girl, lost and alone in Plumas National Forest.

She named her Marissa.

Pangborn had only four apples and a small amount of water to sustain herself for four days. She soon found herself plagued by mosquitoes and wasps, whom she had to expose herself to in an attempt to protect her vulnerable newborn.

Amber Pangborn gave birth in woods

“The meat bees came out and were trying to get the placenta. I was trying to get them not to sting her and I got stung trying to keep them away from the baby. But they went into the placenta.”

On Saturday, Pangborn managed to start a signal flare that caught quickly and spread into a massive forest fire.

“The fire just went whoosh’ and shot up the mountainside. And I was looking at Marissa … and I was like, ‘I think mommy just started a forest fire, honey.”

So now Pangborn, with newborn in hand and no food or water to speak of, was lost in a forest that had quickly become a raging inferno.

Woman gives birth, fights off bees, starts wildfire in Northern California

But as far as forest fires go, this one was lucky. In just a few hours, a Cal Fire helicopter found mother and child, and sent a rescue team to retrieve them.

“I was just crying, I thought we were going to die. I was just so glad that someone had seen us and we were going to be okay,”

Amber and baby Marissa were admitted into an Oroville hospital on the same day. We wish the pair of hardcore survivalists a speedy recovery.  


Read more: Six Of The Most Amazing Stories Of Survival Against The Odds