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‘The  Perfect Firestorm - The Thomas Fire Story’ to be shown at Ojai Film Festival Friday, Nov.  8, at 1 p.m., at 316 E. Matilija St., Ojai

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“The Perfect Firestorm — The Thomas Fire Story” about the Dec. 4, 2017 Thomas Fire that started near Thomas Aquinas College on Highway 150 and threatened Ojai will screen Friday, Nov. 8, at 1 p.m. at the Sane Living Center at 316 E. Matilija St., Ojai, as part of the Ojai Film Festival.
To see the trailer for “The Perfect Firestorm — The Thomas Fire Story,” visit
Single tickets cost $12; tickets for seniors, students and military are $8. Tickets may be purchased at the door or online at https://ojaifilmfestival.com/tickets-2019/.
“The Perfect Firestorm” was produced by the nonprofit Community Access Partners of San Buenaventura (CAPS). It is based on dozens of first-person interviews with firefighters, first-responders, residents and others impacted by the tragedy. Film collaborators included Museum of Ventura County, KEYT, Ventura City Fire and Police departments, Ventura County Fire Department, Office of Emergency Services, Sheriff’s Office, and other agencies.
In addition to sharing their stories, Ventura County residents sent hundreds of photos and videos recorded during and after the fire to help tell the story. 
Included in the film are interviews with John McNeil of Ojai, assistant chief with the Ventura County Fire Department, who has played a major role in fighting the latest Maria Fire in Ventura County; and Trevor Quirk of Ojai. Clark Tulberg, an employee at Thomas Aquinas College, tells how he, Ben Coughlin, Pierre Rioux and Andrew Carey helped firefighters save Thomas Aquinas College and shepherd people in Upper Ojai and Santa Paula fleeing the fire to the center of the college soccer field. Throughout the night, they turned on sprinklers and stamped out hundreds of hot spots, risking their health as they stood guard all night long, outside in the thick smoke, protecting the college and evacuees.
Others include Jake and Jenny Dilbeck, on Wheeler Canyon Road; Debbie Jackson, an owner of the Brokaw ranches; and heroic ranch manager Jose Alcaraz. Also included are interviews with Tony Gomez and Jose Gomez who braved flames to help save the Leavens Ranch west of Santa Paula.
The voice of Ventura County Fire Department Capt. Tony Salas is also heard in the film responding to one of the first reports of the Thomas Fire. Salas was in the first engine of thousands that responded to what was then the largest fire in modern California history. With him were Capt. Steve Swindle and firefighter Steve Buckles.
To see individual footage of people telling about the Thomas Fire, including locals McNeil and Quirk, visit the CAPS site:
Since the Thomas Fire, there have been many more fires in California, including the latest Easy Fire in the Simi Valley area, and the Maria Fire that broke out on South Mountain between Santa Paula and Somis on Oct. 31 and is due to be contained this week.
CAPS Media Executive Director and documentary Executive Producer Patrick Davidson described the documentary as “our gift to the community,” explaining how he and his team collected images of the fire and videotaped about 50 people. The film is described for the festival as featuring “personal stories of survival and healing following this historic wildfire.”
Other producers of the 77-minute film are Evan Carpenter, Donald McConnell, Elizabeth Rodeno, and Gary Roll.
Attendees are asked to get to the screenings 15 minutes before the film starts and to allow about 10 minutes to find parking.
The Ojai Film Festival continues through Nov. 10. For more information about other films screening throughout the week, visit www.ojaifilmfestival.com.
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