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Flames scorch Canon 7D, but flash card survives

A burning car isn't a great place for a higher-end SLR and a laptop. The good news: the SanDisk memory card and the MacBook's hard drive survived.

Petra Hall's fiance's Canon 7D didn't make it through a car fire--but her SanDisk flash card did.
The Canon 7D of Petra Hall's fiance didn't make it through a car fire--but her SanDisk flash card did. Petra Hall

Laudably, camera makers are steadily improving how rugged and weatherproof their products are. But there are limits, and being in a flaming car is one of them.

So discovered Swedish photographer Petra Hall and her fiance, whose Canon EOS 7D didn't survive when the MG convertible it was in caught fire inexplicably. It and the 24-105mm lens attached were reduced to a camera-shaped mass of scorched, bubbled plastic.

Happily, no humans were injured in the fire, according to Hall's account of the fire. Gear fetishists, though, might want to avert their gaze before seeing the traces of the red band around the rim of the lens indicating it once was one of Canon's high-end and expensive L-series models.

But here's the happy ending: the SanDisk CompactFlash memory card survived within the camera, and necessary photos were retrieved with no trouble once the card was extracted from the camera body's remains.

This Canon 7D was destroyed in a car fire.
This Canon 7D was destroyed in a car fire. Petra Hall

Naturally, though, the two are a bit leery of using the card for their photography work now. SanDisk didn't seem eager to offer a replacement.

"I did e-mail SanDisk support to ask them if I could get a new memory card, just in case it has gotten damages that's hidden behind the unharmed shell," Petra said in an e-mail. "The reply was: 'Thank you for the information and for the photos attached. It is indeed a very impressive view. In this case we have to inform you that if the card is working fine there is no problem with it and it is covered by warranty.'"

Hall is retiring the card, though. "As I shoot weddings (and my fiance assists), I don't dare to risk to use this card for that. The card is now retired to 'private shots.'"

Also in the trunk was an Apple MacBook Air computer. It, too was roasted, but a technician was able to extract the hard drive and its data intact.

And P.S.--memory cards have been known to survive unexpected and prolonged soaking in ocean waters as well.

Update 11:54 a.m. PDT Aug. 18: SanDisk evidently had second thoughts about its replacement policy. Hall said a SanDisk customer support representative contacted her Wednesday, telling her "I had not received a satisfactory reply," she said. "It was evident that this was a very rare occasion and I should of course get a replacement card from SanDisk. Which will be shipped via UPS as soon as possible," SanDisk told her.

Hall's reaction: "Good news!"

The burned MG convertible where the camera and a MacBook Air were roasted.
The burned MG convertible where the camera and a MacBook Air were roasted. Petra Hall