LeVar Burton and Michael Gross in Firestorm: 72 Hours in Oakland (1993)

Fire in the Hills

After smoke is seen rising from the woodland in the Oakland area various fire services attends the scene and work hard to put out the flames which they seem to get under control. But the following day the fire springs up again and with the increase in winds it becomes impossible to control. Whilst some people set about preserving their homes, soaking their roofs and treasured items it soon becomes a case of evacuating the residents as the flames tear through people's homes.

When ever a studio decides to make a movie about a real event they walk all sorts of fine lines. Take "Firestorm: 72 Hours in Oakland" a TV movie which attempts to dramatize the horrendous brush fires that swept across Northern California leaving many people homeless. Now for those who only remember seeing the fires on the news reports and never encountered the horror of a wild fire it may be an effective drama. In truth it does a solid job of establishing characters in a typical disaster movie way whilst also showing some of the dangers and incorporating actual footage from the fires. When you see the cars jammed on roads with flames flying high along the side it is visually powerful.

But then how do those people who were involved in the actual events, or maybe other wild fires, feel about having a movie made which for all sense and purposes capitalizes on their suffering even if that wasn't the intention. I would imagine there are many who find not only seeing the horrors of the fires uncomfortable but also feel the need to make things entertaining a little uncalled for. Of course a movie has to deliver entertainment alongside being informative but in truth at times "Firestorm: 72 Hours in Oakland" over plays things to try and be a bit too entertaining and dramatic.

What this all boils down to is that "Firestorm: 72 Hours in Oakland" has the issues so many TV movies have about real disasters such as in trying to pay homage to the work of those involves it over dramatizes things.