Wildfire Update (23 08 24)

A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Thursday, Aug. 24, 2023

After a terrifying and relatively fast dash from the North Shuswap through to the South Shuswap late last week, the out-of-control wildfire that is threatening the Sorrento Centre and our farm appears to be slowing. Last week, the fire spread through the North Shuswap leaving a trail of devastation before crossing south, where it continues to be dangerous and volatile.

Thursday was a day in which BC Wildfire Service, along with the RCMP and local authorities, had a chance to review operational objectives for the coming days. There are firefighters on the ground throughout the region, along with police and first responders. Aviation crews have been grounded on the weekend and early in the week due to heavy smoke, which limited visibility and made flying risky. But rain on Monday and Tuesday cleared the air a bit.

BC Wildfire said on Thursday: “The top priority of our response is to keep people safe.” There are structure protection crews in the North Shuswap and in Sorrento safeguarding buildings.

The weather forecast for the weekend is heat into the low to mid-30s and no rain. There is an increasing chance of rain mid-week. The wildfire threatening Sorrento was ignited by a lightning strike during an extended hot and dry period.

Our Centre, and much of Sorrento, along with other parts of North and South Shuswap, are under an evacuation order, with other areas under an alert (a warning to be ready to leave). We won’t be able to assess the damage of the wildfire, and the associated power outage, on our Centre until it is safe to return to the area. It is not possible to predict when that might be.

On Thursday, the Sorrento Centre convened an on-line meeting of the South Shuswap Community Response Network, including social and community agencies at work in our area, along with the RCMP and first responders. Others from the Shuswap region joined. We shared information, identified needs at this point in the ongoing crisis, and discussed possible collaborations to ensure that our neighbours get the support that they need.

We will continue to post daily updates on our website and on social media. We are grateful that our staff and neighbours are safe for now. We are grateful for the firefighters, police and first responders. We are grateful for emergency services. We are grateful for the many acts of loving kindness by our staff, our neighbours and our friends near and far.

From the Night Prayer of the Anglican Church of Canada:

Keep watch, dear God, with those who work, or watch,
or weep this night, and give your angels charge
over those who sleep. Tend the sick, Lord Christ;
give rest to the weary, bless the dying,
soothe the suffering, pity the afflicted, shield the joyous;
and all for your love’s sake. Amen.

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