Where there's smoke...

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It was a quiet Sunday in Palm Desert. The neighbors came home from church, drove into the garage and killed the ignition. The car had other ideas.

It started hissing, then smoking, then really, really smoking. Dressed in her Sunday best, high heels clacking on the asphalt as she moved away from the house, the neighbor pressed the phone to her ear. Within four or five minutes, the firefighters arrived, smoke billowing over the garage, the house and high into the desert sky.

The fire extinguished, the neighbors safe, the drama concluded, Battalion Chief Andrew Bennett took a long drag on his cigarette. When asked if he saw the irony, he said, "Everyone needs a hobby."

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Photos: Ellen Alperstein

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