My character is trying to outrun a wildfire. She hiked for two hours from the place her car is parked in order to get to her campsite, and once she becomes aware of the fire is going to try to get back to her car, possibly becoming a little lost along the way.
From what I'm reading, the most common cause of death due to wildfire is confusion caused by smoke inhalation, but I'm having trouble finding more detailed info. What might be happening to her physically as she's trying to get back to her car? What kind of timeline am I looking at, and how close to the fire would she have to be/how big would the fire have to be in order for all this to happen? So far I have her coughing and getting short of breath, and was planning on having some confusion set in as well, but I'm not sure how soon that might actually happen, the severity of it, or how long she'd have after it does.
I'm also having trouble finding descriptions of what her surroundings are going to feel and smell like. I've been close enough to wildfires to experience how the smoke obscures everything and how it can cast that odd yellow-orange glow over things, but that's it. Does a wildfire sound or smell any different than your average bonfire? Is there anything else I'm overlooking?
Googled: multiple variations on “forest fire survival,” “wildfire survival stories,” “smoke inhalation symptoms,” the Wikipedia articles on wildfires and smoke inhalation, and the "burns and smoke inhalation" tag in this community.