Canon 7D Goes Up in Flames, Memory Card Escapes Unscathed

Photographer Petra Hall‘s fiancé recently bought a used MG convertible right before going on a vacation. However, on the way back from work the weekend before the vacation was to begin, something in the car exploded and the car went up in flames.

The list of gadgets in the car is enough to make a grown man weep: a Canon 7D, a Canon 24-105L lens, and a MacBook Air. Everything burned up.

Surprisingly, both the hard drive in the Macbook Air and the CompactFlash card inside the 7D survived the flames, and the data on both were recovered. The memory card door on the 7D? Not so lucky:

Here’s a photograph of the car that exploded and took beautiful gear with it:

Any guesses as to what would have happened if the camera was built with plastic rather than magnesium alloy?

Thanks for the tip, Drew!

Image credits: Photographs by Petra Hall and used with permission

  • Jeff Haskell

    That’s not an MG, that’s a Toyota MR2.

  • kuya ninja

    So Lucky..

  • Dugdale

    Wow, I bet the scandisk could use that as an ad.

  • Dr. Edward Wallington

    Just goes to show that in field back up of memory cards is a good way forward.. however no tif the hard drive is stored in the camera bag with the camera in this case. A very lucky escape! Equipment can be replaced (although costly, unless covered via insurance)… memories and photos cannot. The memory card does look remarkably intact, especially given the card slot cover has gone..

  • OneWriter

    And magnesium is extremely flammable. In fact, powdered magnesium was used as flash powder in the early days of photography. Solid metallic magnesium is difficult to ignite, but burns white-hot once it does. If that magnesium frame had burned, it would have gone right through the car — and definitely would have cooked the memory card.

  • Chris

    That is an MG, an MGF to be precise ;o)

  • J.F.Sebastian

    If you look closely at the 7D, it doesn’t seem to very damaged : you can see almost all the details & paintings. Moreover, plastic pieces such as the one in front of the viewfinder are almost ok.
    A cheaper, plastic-built camera might have been able to protect the memory card as well.

  • Nape

    Wrong Jeff, it’s an MG TF.


    Looks like Meltman! good to know the card would be safe!

  • Ghghg

    I think that the Macbook Air goes up in flames…

  • Petra Hall

    Hi, I’m Petra! I did receive a comment from the Support at Sandisk, when I asked if it was possible to replace the Sandisk card, in case it took some beating even if it’s not a visible one: “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.”

    Just to put this out of your minds. The car is an MG, no doubt. And the camera is not salvageable. Not only did the plastic melt around the camera and lens, the electronics in the lens (which was possible to remove) is dead too. Although, the batteries in the battery grip was ok. I think.

    The MacBook Air was black from sot, the battery had blown, and the keyboard had keys popped off, the trackpad was like an anthill. The screen did look fairly unharmed (not melted). It’s doomed to go to recycling…. just like the camera will (unless someone bids a good sum for an original art piece… or a door stop. :-D)

  • Fastactingrelief


  • Anonymous

    “Something exploded”?! Come on Petra give us some more details! ;D

  • Petra Hall

    I wasn’t in the car during the accident, but my fiancé was on his way back home from his work in Oslo, Norway (he lives in Sweden) with his workmate. On the highway, about 2-3 hours from Oslo something just exploded with a big bang and when he looked back in the rearview mirror he saw flames coming out of the back of the car (where the engine is). Then he stopped quickly and they both got out of the car. The fire department and the police couldn’t find any foul play, so probably a fuel line that shook loose or something. But I don’t know for sure, neither do my fiancé.

  • Anonymous

    Yikes! Glad everyone was okay (I’ll be avoiding the any MGs at car rentals I guess).

  • Michael Zhang

    Well, this is a chance for someone to have a super unique 7D to display.

    I wonder if anyone else on earth has a 7D charred like yours =)

  • RCT

    Magnesium Alloy, not pure magnesium. Some car manufactures make engine blocks out of magnesium alloy.

  • RCT

    To clarify, even in an explosive environment, you’d need some sort of sustained temperature (or a high enough blast to generate enough heat for the duration of the explosion) to melt the alloy. Not exactly extremely flammable, but dangerous when it is heated to that level.

  • jct


  • jct


  • Spelling Nazi

    Spelling rather.

  • Michael in Tacoma

    I owned an 1985 Toyota MR2 that had some work done on the engine. I was home and got a call informing that that they had taken the car out for a test drive and it caught fire and was destroyed. From the hoodline back it was gutted. That MG looks similar — cause was a loose fuel line.

  • Michael in Tacoma

    I owned an 1985 Toyota MR2 that had some work done on the engine. I was home and got a call informing that that they had taken the car out for a test drive and it caught fire and was destroyed. From the hoodline back it was gutted. That MG looks similar — cause was a loose fuel line.

  • Petra Hall

    Thanks Michael, we suspect that it was a loose fule line too, as it happen after a while driving (there was no smell of gas though before the drive). And I had to confirm with the fiancé, it”s and MGF, but of course I forgot what year. 87 maybe.

  • HSund

    a good chance to think about a NIKON

  • Richard

    A magnesium fire burns hotter and faster than plastic and cannot be put out with water you can atart a fire with magnesium shavings while camping and small blocks of magnesium are sold for this purpose ,as for the time to think about nikon comment it would have melted in this fire also.

  • Yusof

    I always have this perception that those magnesium alloy cameras will burst into flame like flares when it come into contact with fire. One more lesson to learn. Magnesium alloy properties is diferent from pure magnesium.

  • Martin

    The exact same thing happened to my Fiat X1/9 around 15 years ago. I was driving along a country road in my 1979 Fiat when I noticed flames in my rearview mirror. That car was a two seater, and had a mid engine mounted right behind the driver.

    It seems the fuel line had come loose and had sprayed gasoline on the hot engine, causing a rapid fire. I still can’t believe they used a plastic fuel line back then… it looked like aquarium tubing held on by small clamps.

    I pulled off the road, got out, and watched my car burn to the ground while waiting for a fire truck to arrive. It actually took around 30 minutes to reduce a Fiat into a large black charred lump. Naturally, the car and everything in it was completely destroyed.

    The Insurance Company would not pay my claim immediately. They took the car in for “forensic testing” since they had too many claims involving Fiats being burned. They suspected arson on the part of the owners!

  • MallSite

    Incredible. Bet that camera stinks.

  • M Lange

    It appears that they had to pry/break off the card slot cover to remove the memory card, as it had likely fused. Note the cover beneath the CF card in the second picture.

  • Lulu

    At least it wasn’t a Leica M9 with a Noctilux 50mm/.95 lens!

  • Brian Williams

    I wonder if they can get a little warranty work on that camera for the broken CF door :)

  • Wbyoung

    It might be worthwhile to get in touch with Apple re exploding battery…

  • Fastactingrelief

    I’m not nitpicking the spelling. When you work photo retail, and you have to listen to people half heartedly asking you for items that don’t exist, and then interpret what it is that they are actually looking for, it begins to eat your soul a little every time.

  • Eric_ham

    I say the Macbook Air’s batteries blew up.

  • DT

    Nope, it’s an F

  • Ianw

    So so true:
    Fuji Finepix, customer saying Fin e pix
    Sony Cyberspace!
    Have you got one of those cameras, you know, 10x zoom something!

    So many more that now that I am out I have blocked from my mind.

  • Brett

    Are Nikon’s known to be resistant to car fires?

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  • Happy Tinfoil Cat

    My bet goes to the evil exploding Apple battery. ;^)

  • Erkki (the mGF owner)

    The MGF was from -99

  • Chris_hamlet

    Best thing you can do with an MG, just glad everyone was okay.

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  • caltek

    oooohhhh burn :p

  • Martin Santibañez

    Canon 7D by Nokia

  • Marcell Loignon