'Modernization' leaves Atlas Fire victim in Napa without internet

ByMichael Finney and Randall Yip via KGO logo
Thursday, January 16, 2020
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Just over two years after being burned out of their home by the Atlas Fire, a Napa couple turned to Michael Finney for a return to normalcy.

NAPA, Calif. (KGO) -- Just more than two years after being burned out of their home by the Atlas Fire, a Napa couple is looking for a return to normalcy. What they missed after returning home might surprise you.

In the dead of night, the Atlas Fire raced closer to the Corna family home in Napa in 2017. Only the blast of a horn from a passing car woke up Barb and her husband John from their sleep.

"I try not to dwell on that too much, but I feel the people that were honking pretty much saved our lives," said Barb.

Moments later, the family's home lost power.

The couple grabbed a few mementos, including a family scrapbook, and escaped with their lives.

They returned to ash piled up inches high, surrounding by mangled metal.

RELATED: Couple who lost everything in the North Bay fires sent to collections for burned AT&T equipment

Two years later, their home has been rebuilt to almost the same way they left it.

"I just want my house back. I didn't want anything new or fancy. I just want my house back," Barb said.

That's exactly what she got -- except one thing.

"They kept saying we cannot provide internet. The portal is closed. No one could really explain to us what they meant 'the portal is closed,'" said Barb.

The "they" she is referring to is AT&T.

Barb tried accessing the internet using a hot spot, but the signal wasn't strong enough for streaming.

RELATED: The North Bay Wildfires: One Year Later

Barb said an AT&T rep told her they are upgrading her area to fiber optics and until then, she would be without internet.

Barb took her mother's advice and contacted 7 On Your Side. We contacted AT&T, and Barb immediately received a call from the president's office at AT&T.

The company simply told us: "We worked with the customer to re-connect her service and resolve this."

"Super surprised. We were very surprised. We know you are able to work your wonder for different stuff, but we thought this was kind of a small thing," Barb said.

AT&T apparently restored Barb's old DSL service as a stopgap until she can be upgraded to fiber optics.

Take a look at more stories and videos by Michael Finney and 7 On Your Side.