The fire-resistant house she built in Napa, Calif., with the insurance money was “so different — and I like different.”

Marian Berg lost nearly everything in the Atlas fire of 2017 — not just the Napa, Calif., house she had built with her husband, who died in 2014, but all of its contents.

Ms. Berg at home with her dogs, Spike and Snickers.Jim Wilson/The New York Times

“I was downstairs reading a book, and I had a friend who called and said, ‘Your hill is on fire,’” said Ms. Berg, 69, an accountant. “I grabbed my dog and ripped the cables out of the back of my computer, threw that in the car, and then ran back for my passport. Then I was out of there.”

The lot slopes down from the street, and the house is recessed into the earth.Joe Fletcher

She had been through a fire scare before, so she didn’t immediately assume the worst. “I actually thought I was going to come back,” she said.

But a few days later, she heard from a friend that the house had burned down. There was nothing to go back to.

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