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.”
“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.”
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Unbelievable. Our house is behind her, and the ones across the street gone too. Someone working in the area was able to swing by and check it out (thank you!). They sent us some pictures. One taillight is melted, but it started right up. Can’t be removed yet so not sure when she will be in our hands again, but it brings a smile to our faces! #campfire #paradisefire #subaruoutback #imprezasport @subaru_usa #survive #campfire @nssc.chico @chicosubaru #hope #subaruobsessed
Amid the historic fire’s devastation, the survival of his shuttle rig offered McQuoid a chance to look back at the countless kayaking adventures the car enabled after he bought it used, as the second owner in 2010, now with “220,000 miles and many good memories on it at this point!”
“When I found kayaking it was the perfect way to explore river canyons,” says McQuoid, a long-time contributor to C&K who has a wealth of kayaking destination beta on his website, collected over years sparked by an early interest in exploring canyons on foot. “The more I did, the more I wanted to do. At the time (around 2002) there was very little information available online about rivers and creeks and almost no photographs. I realized others must want to know and see more too.” Since he began shooting then, McQuoid has captured whitewater around the globe, from Japan and Corsica to at home in the High Sierra. He also tests and reviews a variety of gear for C&K such as: water filters / jackets / sleeping pads / sleeping bags / river shoes.
— Read more on the Camp Fire, the deadliest wildfire in California and it effects on Paradise, Calif., and the Feather River region, plus how paddlers and Southern California residents fared in the concurrent Woolsey Fire causing catastrophic damage near Malibu, Calif.
The article was originally published on Canoe & Kayak
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