Varenna Oakmont Senior Living resident describes harrowing facility evacuation

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Katheryn Mann says she looked a long time to find a place as nice as Varenna. She describes a pristine property with plenty of activities and gourmet meals, but after what happened early Monday morning, she says she's not sure she wants to go back. (KGO-TV)

Katheryn Mann says she looked a long time to find a place as nice as Varenna. She describes a pristine property with plenty of activities and gourmet meals, but after what happened early Monday morning, she says she's not sure she wants to go back.

RELATED: Seniors may have been left at burning Oakmont living center

Video shows Oakmont Villa Capri, a community within Varenna Oakmont Senior Living engulfed in flames.

"Probably the worst thing that's ever happened to me in my life," said Katheryn.

For nearly 4 years Mann has been a resident in Varenna Oakmont's main building which survived the fire on Fountaingrove Parkway in Santa Rosa.

"I was scared out of my word," she continued.

In a new statement, Oakmont Management Group says, "Staff members went door to door alerting residents to gather in the lobby."

But Katheryn says she went into the hallway on her own around 1230am when she heard a senior staff member's voice.

"I said what's going on are we evacuating and he said just wait in your room ... which I did and it was the last time I saw anybody," explained Katheryn.

VIDEO: Varenna Oakmont Senior Living Community resident describes terrifying 'inferno' and confusing evacuation
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Katheryn Mann says she was told to stay in her room as flames approached the Varenna Oakmont Senior Living Community.



By the middle of the night Katheryn's granddaughter Tanja sent her ex-boyfriend, a Santa Rosa Police Officer with his partner to find her grandmother.

"He found her outside of her third story apartment crying and basically screaming for help," said Tanja Werle.

"I can't thank them," Katheryn trailed off for a moment.

"They saved my life, I'd still be there," she continued.

ABC7 News asked Oakmont Management Group where staff was at that point in the night.

LIST: North Bay donation centers, businesses, organizations offering help for fire victims

They responded, "While we were in the process of shuttling residents to a designated location, authorities refused to allow staff to reenter the area because of the existing danger, and indicated they would take responsibility for evacuating remaining residents."

A point Santa Rosa Police Department disputes.

"We were not stopping anybody from helping save lives that night. We had not set up any roadblocks at the time, we weren't preventing anyone from getting in at the time," said Santa Rosa Police Department Captain Rainer Navarro on Thursday.

RJ Kisling, another resident's grandson told ABC7 News he along with firefighters evacuated the final 70 residents from the building.

"The repeated question was how come nobody came and got us how come nobody told us we were evacuating and from the fire department was where is the staff where is the master key," said RJ Kisling on Thursday.

RJ helped load the residents onto two Golden Gate Transit buses.

His sister shot video as they left the burning building.

"Following a bus right now out with a bunch of elderly people," she narrated while filming.

The Santa Rosa Police Officers took Katheryn in their vehicle.

"I didn't know how they got us out of there in that flames we were just driving through inferno. I never want to go through anything like that again," she said.

Oakmont Management Group says staff remained in communication with authorities to ensure all residents were safe.

The Department of Social Services tells ABC7 News it is now investigating Varenna Oakmont Senior Living's evacuation to determine if facility staff followed its evacuation plan.
Click here for full coverage of the North Bay fires.

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firefighterscal firefirewildfireNorth Bay Firessonoma countynapa countyNapaSanta Rosa
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