The fire was reported at 4:03 p.m. at 820 Ridge Drive. A second alarm was called shortly after firefighters arrived.
The house sits high on a ridge, making smoke from the fire visible to most of central Contra Costa County, Fire Marshal Lewis Broschard said.
The high elevation and winding streets also made it difficult for firefighters to access the home, delaying their response.
The home's residents were not there at the time of the fire, but firefighters did rescue their cat from the burning residence.
The fire was controlled shortly after 5 p.m.
The damage to the home was pretty substantial, Broschard said, particularly damage to the roof, which was made of cedar. The residents have been temporarily displaced.