Oakmont’s Response to Questions Posed by the Media…

Oakmont has not blamed residents for the fire or any associated losses. Our attorneys prepared a standard response to the lawsuit that included all possible “affirmative defenses.” If all potential defenses are not raised, they are generally considered to have been “waived.”

At least five (5) Oakmont employees, including Villa Capri’s Executive Director, attempted to reach the Oakmont communities in the Fountaingrove area and were turned away at multiple entry sites by local authorities.

In addition, there are dozens of witnesses, including other assisted living provider employees, family members and citizens of Sonoma County who corroborate that roads were blocked and authorities refused to allow Oakmont employees and others to enter the area to assist with evacuation efforts.

Memory care residents are not in a “locked” unit but rather a secure area on the first floor that is protected by delayed egress doors that alarm when opened.  Memory care residents at Villa Capri were the first set of residents to be assembled for evacuation.

Yes, staff members attempted to contact emergency personnel at least 12 times and the line was busy.  After these repeated attempts to reach emergency authorities, the Executive Director at Villa Capri finally reached the Fire Department.  When she asked whether residents should be evacuated without assistance from emergency personnel, they replied that they were unable to assist and she would need to evacuate residents without their assistance.

In addition, multiple staff members flagged down emergency personnel in the Fountaingrove neighborhood and asked them to assist with evacuations.

Family members of Villa Capri residents who initially assisted in evacuating residents also were denied access when they attempted to return to the community.

The emergency evacuation plan considered resident needs and was developed according to current recommendations from the Federal Emergency Management Agency (FEMA), American Red Cross, and other agencies.

  • Each community routinely reviews their plan and considers the unique characteristics of its residents and grounds.
  • Villa Capri had a community specific Disaster Planning Task Force that met monthly in 2017 and reviewed items such as evacuation plans, emergency food and water supplies, and emergency shut-offs and controls.

It would be extremely dangerous and contrary to all safety precautions to take the elevator during an active fire.

No. All residents and staff were accounted for.

Yes, as soon as it was determined staff members needed to evacuate all residents, without the help of the Fire Department, residents were immediately notified and the evacuation process began.

There were 4 staff members working their regular shift, and 3 additional Oakmont team members who lived nearby in on-site housing came in to assist with evacuations. A total of 7 employees, along with family members and emergency personnel, successfully evacuated all residents at Villa Capri. At least another 6 staff members attempted, unsuccessfully, to access the property to assist with the evacuations.

No. Residents living in memory care, who resided on the first floor of the building, were among the first group to be evacuated. Staff made this decision given the time it would take to safely and carefully evacuate them.

This was a team effort led by staff, with help from family members, residents and emergency personnel, which we greatly appreciated. Staff members used their personal vehicles to transport residents to safety. Staff also used buses to safely shuttle residents off site.

We appreciate the efforts of family members who assisted in the evacuation. This was a catastrophic disaster for residents across Sonoma County.

Yes. The training and staffing at Villa Capri complied or exceeded regulatory standards.

Oakmont Senior Living hired a general engineering company to remove the debris at Villa Capri. No debris was hauled offsite until the proper permit was obtained to do so (click here for permit).

During this process, the city of Santa Rosa requested that Oakmont Senior Living apply for a demolition permit. We complied with their request and were issued a demolition permit by the city of Santa Rosa to remove the debris at Villa Capri.

The fire alarms at Villa Capri were never turned off or silenced and carbon monoxide detectors continued to sound as the building was being evacuated.

Absolutely not. When it became apparent not all employees at Villa Capri could be placed at another Oakmont community because the community was destroyed, we identified alternative positions within the company.

When none were available, we partnered with other senior living providers in the area to offer alternative employment options, including offering two job fairs.  In addition, as a good faith gesture, we offered departing employees a payment to ease the transition as they sought alternative employment.  Employees were not required to accept the payment and by accepting the payment, they were not being “silenced.”

Not only were departing employees offered this payment, they were also paid for non-worked time during the period immediately following the wildfire.

No. While our staff was in the process of shuttling our residents to a staging site, emergency authorities at several entry locations refused to let multiple staff members re-enter.

“We live at Varenna and would like you to know how much we appreciate the very professional and excellent way we were treated by your staff throughout the fire evacuation process. They were so helpful and kind during the entire six weeks. We really appreciated the daily meetings to keep us informed and to answer the many questions we all had concerning the status of Varenna and our impending return. Thank you all for everything you have done for us.”

Residents, Oakmont of Varenna

“My sister and I would like to commend the administration and staff of Villa Capri for the outstanding evacuation that happened early Monday morning. The fires in Santa Rosa were a horrendous event and it is amazing that everyone was saved. We are also grateful for the super attentive follow up care at Belmont Village. All the clients from Santa Rosa appear to be calm, and secure. It must be comforting for them to see so many familiar faces. Thank you for making that happen!”

Family Member of Resident, Oakmont of Villa Capri

“We are grateful to the outstanding owners, management, and staff who were able to safely evacuate hundreds of residents the night of the firestorm. We know many of the staff lost their own homes that night. Our thoughts and thanks go out to all of them.”

Family Member of Resident, Oakmont of Varenna

“The response at Varenna was excellent by 1st responders, staff and even residents.  The generator did go on (I think it’s right below our bedroom) and there was emergency lighting in the hallways and in the lobby.  Name checks were made as we boarded the bus, again at the church and when we boarded the bus for Concord as well as leaving Concord.  I don’t know what else the staff could have done.  In my mind safety and evacuation was prime in everyone’s mind.”

Resident, Oakmont of Varenna
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