Photos and story by Darin McQuoid
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On Nov. 8, 2018, Darin McQuoid evacuated his home in Paradise, Calif., leaving behind a red 1997 Subaru Outback Sport as the sky turned black and the flames of the Camp Fire rapidly spread — ultimately growing into the state’s deadliest and most destructive wildfire to date. Two days later, when McQuoid shouldered the news that his home had burned down, the expedition kayaker-photographer never imagined that he’d see the car again.

“Once we saw the house was gone,” McQuoid said, “we assumed for sure the car was too, as it was only 10 feet away from other things that burned.”

The next week, however, he saw the photo. “Cal Fire put up images of every house in town, but intentionally left out vehicles,” he added. “Looking through them we saw an image of our neighbor’s house, which you could see right through, and then the ol’ Subaru in front of the remains of our place.”

The photo of the remains of the neighbor’s house gave McQuoid a view through to his street, and his car.

“Later we saw an aerial image of it,” McQuoid said, “and an acquaintance doing rescue work looked at it and said it looked fine except for the melted tail lights.”

The aerial image confirmed that the Subaru was indeed still alive.