32 year-old Samuel Cole has been arrested in Helena after leaving two small children buckled into their car seats in the back of a burning vehicle.

Lewis and Clark County Sheriff Leo Dutton said Cole has been charged with felony criminal endangerment, as well as partner or family member assault.

“On Friday, Samuel Cole had been driving the vehicle on York Road and Cupid outside Helena and had run off the road into the snow,” Dutton said. “When he tried to drive out of the snow bank, the vehicle overheated and the engine caught fire. He then said to the other occupants of the vehicle, a woman and two children, ‘I’ve got to leave,’ and grabbed some stuff out of the vehicle and ran. It did turn out that he had some warrants for his arrest, and after visiting with the woman in the car, he was taken into custody for partner or family member assault, assault with a weapon and criminal endangerment.”

After Cole left the burning vehicle, responding deputies said a female resident from a nearby home assisted the woman in the vehicle and got the children safely out of the car and inside her home where they could get warm. The fire was extinguished by personnel from the East Valley Fire department and no one was injured.