Stranded woman gives birth... starts wildfire

Stranded woman giving birth in Plumas National Forest. (Twitter)

A woman who gave birth alone and was stranded for days in a remote area of Northern California survived the ordeal by starting a fire that roared out of control and drew firefighters to her rescue, local media reported.

Officials with the Plumas National Forest confirmed on Tuesday that a fire broke out on Saturday at the park and that firefighters rescued a woman and a newborn baby from the burn area. They declined to discuss the cause of the fire, saying it was under investigation.

Amber Pangborn of Oroville, California, told television station KCRA that after realizing she might be going into labour, she drove along a back road to get to her parents' home for help only to get lost in a remote part of the Plumas National Forest.

"There was no cell phone service, there was nothing. And the car was out of gas," Pangborn told the station.

Alone, Pangborn gave birth early on Thursday. She and her newborn child, whom she named Marissa, were then stranded without any provisions except for three apples, a bottle of water and a can of soda, Pangborn told KCRA.

She told the station that, desperate to get help, she started a fire on Saturday in the hope of attracting attention, and the flames quickly grew.

"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,'" Pangborn told the local TV station.

A US Forest Service helicopter crew responding to the fire spotted the car containing the mother and newborn, and sent a fire truck which took the pair to another location, said Plumas National Forest spokesman Jeremy Croft.

The fire grew to a quarter acre (1,000 sq meters) and was extinguished without any injury to firefighters, the Forest Service said in a statement.

"Our thoughts and best wishes continue to be with the mother and baby," Chris French, forest supervisor for Plumas National Forest, said in a statement.

Pangborn's mother, Dianna Williams, told KCRA that she was elated her daughter and granddaughter were safe.

"The baby's beautiful and everything's wonderful," Williams told the station.

A spokeswoman for Oroville Hospital, where Pangborn was taken for treatment, said she had been discharged and declined to release any further details. Pangborn could not be reached for comment.

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