Brian Strange had just landed at the airport on Nov. 9 when he got a note from his wife. She had evacuated their Malibu home, fleeing with their kids and dogs.

So he returned to his home the only way he could: by boat. Once on land, he found no firefighters. But many of his neighbors were fighting off the flames. He tossed a smoldering piece of wood near his guesthouse into the pool.

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