A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Sunday, Aug. 20, 2023
The out-of-control wildfire threatening the Sorrento Centre and our farm is generating flames, smoke and heat. It remains a very high risk to our main campus and farm, plus our neighbours in the South and North Shuswap. An evacuation order has been expanded, and there are alerts (warning to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice) in the surrounding area.
We evacuated our beloved Centre on Friday – all guests, including a family evacuated from the North Shuswap, plus many of our staff team. Other staff safely sheltered at their homes.
The fire moved quickly Friday – on one estimate, it travelled 20k in less than 12 hours. The fire is estimated to be about 2k from the main campus, and less than half that from our farm. With heavy smoke, fire officials are unable to accurately estimate the perimeter.
Here are a few details:
- Our staff team are safe for now and all our neighbours are reported to be safe.
- Emergency staff at Columbia-Shuswap Regional District are offering excellent support.
- Twenty firefighters from Brazil are on the ground just west of our Centre to reinforce a fire line and steer the flames back up the slope of the nearby hills.
- Aircraft are assigned, but they are not allowed to fly when the smoke is so dense that visibility is critically reduced.
- As of mid-Sunday, BC Wildfire reports the fire is being held.
- Some rain is forecast for Tuesday, which could bring relief, but there are wind gusts in the forecast, which could fan the flames.
- On Sunday afternoon, we received unconfirmed reports our main campus and farm have been spared from the flames, but the conditions remain dangerously volatile.
The situation remains extremely risky and dynamic. We will continue to offer daily updates. It is a challenging time for our beloved Centre. We are grateful that our guests, staff and neighbours are safe for now. We are thankful for BC Wildfire firefighters doing their best. We are thankful for emergency services staff and many volunteers supporting evacuees. The messages of love and support from our friends near and far lift our hearts. All prayers ascending to the divine are a comfort to all of us.
Here is a prayer from our Anglican friends at Episcopal Development and Relief:
O God, our refuge and strength, our help in times of trouble.
Have mercy on the lands damaged by fires.
Have mercy on the lands where the weather has destroyed livelihoods.
Protect those who evacuate houses and strengthen those who rebuild hope
so that entire communities may face the future without fear.