2008 BMW 1 Series Long Term Road Test


BMW 135i: Burnt Ember

November 17, 2008

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As you may have noticed, it was touch-and-go this weekend for many folks in Southern California. For those of us who live in Orange County, it was pretty serious. Just in case, I packed up photo albums, keepsakes, computer backup files, documents.

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Luckily, we'd only recently moved in, so many of those items were still in boxes and easy to find. Also, there's quite a bit of capacity in the 135i, especially because the rear seats fold down.

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As threatening as things looked in Fullerton, we didn't have to leave under threat of fire, but the smoke from fires in neighboring Brea and Yorba Linda got really thick once the winds shifted. I had to change the filters in our HVAC system twice in 12 hours and close the outside fresh-air intake.

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By the next morning, the sun was blocked out completely (facing North at the corner of Harbor and Chapman). Sorry about the cell-phone photo.

While things looked bad for us in Fullerton, it was much worse in Yorba Linda where Dan lives. He came over to our place for a beer, some fresh air, and news download.

Here are a few of his dramatic photos from his neiborhood. All the following photos were shot and captioned by Dan and his wife, Tracy:

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The SW corner of Heatheridge Dr. about 1 hour before the worst of it. This house and its neighbors survived.

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The SE corner of heatheridge. The house to the right of the mail truck and 4 or 5 to the left would later burn to the ground.

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Flames bear down on Hidden Hill Drive--one ridge away from the Heatheridge homes. I'm standing with the mail carrier and others in the front yard of the house on the corner.

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As the mail carrier and I go, the neighbors debate whether or not they should pack and leave. It is way past that point, but no official word had yet come and they seemed unconcerned. Embers dropped, causing the fire to jump to this ridge minutes after I left. Both houses were gone within an hour or two. I heard stories of people running to their cars with no shoes. One woman who lived one street over from this one me that her car's plastic bumper caught fire as they sped off.

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Flames arrive at the summit of Hidden Hills Drive. Time for my family to leave.

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We saw lots of chemical drops from these all day.

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A red sun over the roof of the doomed Heatheridge house.

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The smoke at our house when we left to take the kids elsewhere. There are 1 mile of homes between ours and those up on the ridges, but my wife and I came back in case embers caused flare-ups. There were'nt enough firefighters to do that, and a lot of our friends saved their own homes that way. We had no such drama here.

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A TV crew films the wreckage of the Heatheridge house where I stood at earlier. The house to the left isn't there anymore, either. At this point there were no roadblocks, and suspicious cars trolled the neighborhoods. Some looting occurred and roadblocks went up later.

Chris Walton (and Dan Edmunds) @ 13,034 miles

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