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Discussion Starter #1
Thought experiment based on current news: You get caught at home by a fast-moving wildfire. In your driveway you have a normal ICE, long-range BEV, or PHEV (with decent EV range). Which should you take to drive through the fire?

I've heard people say ICE can stall due to lack of oxygen in the air for the engine, but I'm not sure this actually happens (the fire would also die out if there wasn't much oxygen). I suspect overheating and/or ash clogging the air filter are bigger concerns. So an EV seems like it would be better, no? The EV is also susceptible to overheating in such a hot ambient temperature, though, so maybe PHEV is the best... alternate running on gas or electric, hoping neither overheats past the point of usefulness? Thoughts? This would make an interesting Mythbusters episode...
 

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Propulsion won't matter. You will cook or suffocate inside any car long before it burns, or the oxygen drops enough to stop the engine.

Your best bet is the largest vehicle most formidable vehicle you have. You are going to need to run over debris, possibly smash objects or fallen trees out of the way as well as the vehicles of idiots who have stopped to admire the fires and are now engulfed.
 

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I think it would depend on the conditions. If I truly had to drive through areas ravaged by the fire, I might pick a vehicle like Aseras suggested: high ground clearance, 4WD or AWD. If I'm just fleeing the area or driving through areas with lots of smoke where the fire hasn't actually reached, I might pick a PHEV just because I've got two methods of propulsion.

Mike
 

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There was a mention on the news of how the Tesla "biohazard mode" was effective at improving the measured air quality inside the cabin in an area with poor air quality due to the forest fire in Cal. I think this "mode" is basically a HEPA filter for the HVAC.

It makes sense to me that an ICE vehicle could be vulnerable to air quality issues, especially ash, so I would pick electric. But really the best choice is to take your most valuable vehicle (or vehicles if you have more than one driver in your household) and evacuate well before the fire arrives.
 

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This reminds me of the argument Archie Bunker had with his son in law (Meathead). One of them puts on both socks first and then both shoes. The other puts on a sock and a shoe, followed by the other sock and shoe. They were each astonished at how stupid the other way of doing it was, and they got into a big fight. The sock-shoe-sock-shoe advocate said that if a house fire interrupted him while he's putting on his socks and shoes, and he had to run outside immediately, at least he could hop around outside on one foot. The sock-sock-shoe-shoe advocate said that in such an eventuality, at least both of his feet would be warm.
 

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If I lived in a fire zone, I'd have already built a fire-resistant home, something similar to what I already have, though I'm not in a fire zone, being on a small peninsula on a lake. Anyway, ICF construction, with Hardie cementitious siding. Metal roof. Metal-louvered rollup shades for the windows. Remove all brush around home, and create a 100' firebreak as a perimeter. Then I'd leave all three cars in the garage, but since I don't have a garage, I'd leave them far away from the home, to prevent them from acting as a fireball.
 

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If I lived in a fire zone, I'd have already built a fire-resistant home, something similar to what I already have, though I'm not in a fire zone, being on a small peninsula on a lake. Anyway, ICF construction, with Hardie cementitious siding. Metal roof. Metal-louvered rollup shades for the windows. Remove all brush around home, and create a 100' firebreak as a perimeter. Then I'd leave all three cars in the garage, but since I don't have a garage, I'd leave them far away from the home, to prevent them from acting as a fireball.
Kind of like building a steel and concrete home on pilings over storm surge prone beach with impact resistant windows for those in hurricane prone areas. Any rebuilding should involve strict zoning requirements that address the fact the previous building was not built with the local highly destructive hazards in mind.

Flood plain? Make your new home flood proof or highly resistant. Fire zone? Make your new home fire proof or highly resistant. Earthquake? Ditto. I'm referring to new construction.
 

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I think it would depend on the conditions. If I truly had to drive through areas ravaged by the fire, I might pick a vehicle like Aseras suggested: high ground clearance, 4WD or AWD. If I'm just fleeing the area or driving through areas with lots of smoke where the fire hasn't actually reached, I might pick a PHEV just because I've got two methods of propulsion.

Mike
So when your nice fancy nanny car decides that that tree you pushed past to make it, damaged the radiator and the programming decides to brick your car ( propulsion power reduced, stop engine ), you going to call onstar for help so they can listen to you cook?
This is exactly the reason no computer should ever be able to override a driver. It's also why I'll always keep a "dumb" car around that won't care if I rip off a wheel and am out of coolant, it'll keep going as long as possible. Not tell me to call a tow truck for service.
 

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There was a mention on the news of how the Tesla "biohazard mode" was effective at improving the measured air quality inside the cabin in an area with poor air quality due to the forest fire in Cal. I think this "mode" is basically a HEPA filter for the HVAC.
Large area, low velocity HEPA filter plus a pair of activated carbon filters. Those filter all the air coming into the car, all the time. The actual mode when selected develops a positive pressure in the cabin using the HVAC fan so that all the seals leak outward instead of inward and all air in the car has come through the filter stack.

It'll help with a lot of things, but not an oxygen depleted environment or an excess of carbon monoxide...
 

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Thought experiment based on current news: You get caught at home by a fast-moving wildfire. In your driveway you have a normal ICE, long-range BEV, or PHEV (with decent EV range). Which should you take to drive through the fire?

Well, If it's me the way I normally operate and there was no reason to expect it would be a problem the day before, the LRBEV is the choice. That I have plugged in every night, and charged to 80% or higher. It'll always have a couple hundred miles of range on hand to evacuate.

The PHEV I plugged in and charged every day, too - but the tank could be anywhere in the range, so on average it'll have less total range available. It's not horrible, because presumably once I get forty or fifty miles away I can stop for long enough to refuel - assuming my friends and neighbors have left me any to buy.

The ICE is the worst - I'll wait until it's an eighth or less before refueling, so it might have a full tank, or almost nothing - and during the evacuation finding fuel before leaving the area will be both hard and risky.

In terms of overheating, I think the EV will be fine in any conditions where the driver is. The others likely will too - they have a lot more heat to dump, but also bigger radiators to do it with. Sitting in traffic in the heat idling is probably the worst case, which is only for the ICE and probably not a problem.

I know volcanic ash can take out jets. I assume clogging the air cleaner will be a risk, but I don't really think it'll happen in an hour or two in air you can breathe (assuming you don't have BWD or equivalent.)
 

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Discussion Starter #14 (Edited)
In terms of overheating, I think the EV will be fine in any conditions where the driver is. The others likely will too - they have a lot more heat to dump, but also bigger radiators to do it with. Sitting in traffic in the heat idling is probably the worst case, which is only for the ICE and probably not a problem.
I posted this mainly because of a video I saw in the last few days, of a woman panicking while driving through (almost literal) hell. Just fire everywhere, all around her. So I was curious which would fail first: the occupants or the car (and would one type of car fare better)? How hot can the air be in a situation like that? Those big radiators won't help if the ambient is higher than the coolant... they'll actually be heating the coolant even more. So can driving through a fire-enclosed road have ambient > 200ºF? I would think easily. Could a person survive for a decent chunk of time while driving through that? I would think the interior could be cool enough to be ok for a little while (close all vents, turn off fans), but I really don't know. So would the car conk out before the person? Seems most think "no", and that certainly seems plausible to me... but I'm not sure it's always true. People can survive in saunas for a while, so maybe there are conditions inside that are survivable but would kill the car outside... I mean cars fail all the time in Death Valley, right? Good discussion, keep it coming...

Good point about the EV likely having the most range, I hadn't thought of that angle.

Edit: I saw a youtube video of a guy filming his street. He had been parked on the road with neighbors (unclear if they had been driving and had to stop, or if they felt trapped and just hunkered in their cars or what). Both his neighbors' cars burnt up, everyone inside died. His truck was 20 feet away and was fine (had some minor external damage). His dogs inside survived. He had run out of the truck in a panic during the worst of it and rode out the fire in a creek nearby. Horrific stuff. Wonder if the vehicles were operable at the time or not... clearly it was intense enough to destroy some vehicles but not others nearby, wonder what the difference was?
 

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R.I.P. to the poor folks that had to find out for real. So very sad.
 

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As someone who, in the last year alone, has been evacuated from the two largest wildfires in California history, I can say, without question: EV.

But it has nothing to do with driving through the flames. You might or might not be dead in either case. What's the wonderful thing about EVs versus ICE? You don't have to remember if you filled up your EV. Both times I've been evacuated, walking out to a vehicle that I knew had sufficient range to get me out of dodge was priceless.

Several of the vehicles I saw burned out in Paradise were parked at gas stations. :(
 

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There was a mention on the news of how the Tesla "biohazard mode" was effective at improving the measured air quality inside the cabin in an area with poor air quality due to the forest fire in Cal. I think this "mode" is basically a HEPA filter for the HVAC.

It makes sense to me that an ICE vehicle could be vulnerable to air quality issues, especially ash, so I would pick electric. But really the best choice is to take your most valuable vehicle (or vehicles if you have more than one driver in your household) and evacuate well before the fire arrives.
Correct, Bio-Defence mode it is a giant Hepa filter roughly 3.5 ft x 1 ft x 2” thick Or about 8 times the size of a typical cabin air filter.


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... I might pick a PHEV just because I've got two methods of propulsion.

Mike
From a thread here only 1 day ago:

I hit a Deer this morning with the passenger front headlight area of my 2012 Volt. I noticed coolant leaking and opened the hood and noticed the Engine Coolant tank was emptying but the Battery Coolant side was full. It was a cold morning and the traction battery was fully charged so I thought I could drive a few miles to the Collision Shop.

My 2012 Volt with 150,000 started to slow down to about 35mph and I noticed that it would intermittently lose propulsion for a second or two every 10 seconds or so. It started to slow further and as I was slowing through 15mph I pulled over and had it towed.

I had the Check Engine Light on but no other messages.

Any Ideas?
 

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I've unfortunately been though wildfires. It is mind boggling how fast and how hot they are. You see smoke out the window, you turn grab some things for just a minute and it is a wall of fire just across the street and walking outside is like sticking your whole body into an oven. The "wind" the storm makes is incredible and you even see tornadoes and such from the rush of cool air to fuel the rising hot air.
When you are in that seconds, count. The biggest things that are going to stop you are panic, fear and other people and debris. You need to get out of your house. Your house will flash over and instantly burst into flames.
You may need to run for miles. You need to know your surroundings and know what is the quickest way to wide open spaces. a very large grassy field may catch fire, but it will burn quickly and pass and you will be safe. a road or parking lot ( made of asphalt ) will also burn in a wildfire. A large enough parking lot though will be safe. A simple stream or a pool will not keep you safe. you need a large space buffer to insulate you and you also need to breathe. The more free space you can find around you the safe you will be. You need 100 feet on all sides at a minimum to ride out a fire.

I'm not kidding about panic and fear. people start doing crazy things. jumping out of perfectly safe cars, getting into accidents and stopping on the road over irrelevant threats. You need to go and you need to not stop for anything if possible.

There's a very real risk you will have to pass people acting irrationally and stupidly. There could be any amount of debris. You need to be able to make snap judgements about ramming some limbs but not trying to push over a tree. Your quickest path to safety might be to drive right into the fire if it is quick moving and the road is clear. you have to go quickly but not too fast as it can quickly get darker than blackest night and all you can see is the red glow of doom around you and barely the road.

IMHO IF I had the luxury of choice, I'd pick a large truck or suv over any small car to flee in. I'd pick an older car over any "smart" modern car.
 

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Correct, Bio-Defence mode it is a giant Hepa filter roughly 3.5 ft x 1 ft x 2” thick Or about 8 times the size of a typical cabin air filter.


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That's only one piece of BWD, admittedly the most visually impressive one. The activated cartoon filters for both acidic and basic and the trick fan mode that generates positive pressure in the cabin are just as important.
 
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