Film on October Tubbs Fire Set For Sept. 23 at Berger

  • Al Haggerty

“Urban Inferno: The Night Santa Rosa Burned”, a 40-minute documentary on the Tubbs fire which devastated Santa Rosa last October, will be shown Sept. 23 at Berger Center as part of a program co-sponsored by Movies at Oakmont and the Oakmont Emergency Preparedness Committee.

The film, written, directed and produced by Santa Rosa filmmaker Dr. Stephen Seager, will be shown at 2 and 7 p.m. as part of Movies at Oakmont’s regular program.

A $5 donation per attendee is requested for a fire recovery fund for those who lost their homes.

Dr. Seager, a physician and psychiatrist, who financed the $25,000 film himself, told The Press Democrat he made the movie because those who weren’t involved can’t possibly comprehend the danger and terror of that night. The film includes cellphone videos taken by residents fleeing for their lives and body-cam film from sheriff’s deputies rescuing residents from the wind-blown inferno.

Dr. Seager will introduce the film at both showings and answer questions at its conclusion. He will be joined by Pat Kerrigan, KSRO’s news director, who became something of a local celebrity with her coverage of the fire for 12 straight hours beginning at 2 a.m. Oct. 9. Pat Barclay, chair of the OEPC, will be available to answer questions on emergency preparedness.

“People don’t get it,” Dr. Seager told the PD. “I wanted to take you there and it was jumbled that night. I didn’t want someone coming up from Los Angeles and saying, ‘Hey, I heard you had a fire. Let’s make a movie,’ and doing some clean sanitized version.”

The movie includes You-Tube videos and TV footage from Oregon stations which just happened to be shooting something in Santa Rosa. Some of the video is from residents who forgot they had their cellphones on. Also featured are interviews with Sonoma County Sheriff Rob Giordano, Santa Rosa Fire Chief Tony Gossner and firefighters and survivors.

Dr. Seager fled his Montecito Heights home that night as the wild fires, driven by relentless winds, swept across 137 square miles of Sonoma County. The fires took 24 lives and destroyed nearly 5,300 homes. Dr. Seager’s home narrowly escaped the inferno.

Dr. Seager said the film is a team effort, with his wife, Mette; KSRO general manager Michael O’Shea and Kerrigan serving as co-producers.

Blu Ray discs of the movie will be available for $10. With a large turnout expected, especially at the 2 p.m. showing, it’s recommended that residents consider attending the 7 p.m. showing if possible.