Wildfire Update (23 08 29)

A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Tuesday, Aug. 29, 2023

Wind gusts and warm temperatures on Monday evening and Tuesday are fanning the flames of the Bush Creek East wildfire which continues to burn out-of-control near our main campus and farm. The Sorrento Centre and our farm, along with much of Sorrento and the South Shuswap, remain under evacuation alert – which means that we are ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

On Monday evening after dark, the flames to the south and west of our Centre and farm were plainly visible as the wildfire was fanned by wind gusts. The smoke remained heavy overnight and into Tuesday.

BC Wildfire reported on Tuesday morning: “The warming and drying trend continues with temperatures peaking at 30 degrees today. Today, southwesterly winds with gusts upwards of 40 kilometres per hour are forecasted to begin in the early afternoon and persist into this evening and possibly overnight. Winds should diminish tomorrow, and temperatures will become more seasonal. Fire activity will be more visible today along with increased smoke. 

The safety of crews and the public will be the top priority as the change in weather passes through the area.”

There were night patrols by BC Wildfire and Columbia Shuswap Regional District emergency operations overnight on Monday. Helicopters continued during daylight hours to drop water on the blaze. Emergency officials have raised the estimate of homes and other buildings destroyed by the wildfire in the North Shuswap to 189. Structure protection crews are active in Sorrento, and firefighters are active on the group.

The Sorrento Centre is continuing a detailed assessment of the impact of the wildfire, smoke and a sustained power outage on our lands and buildings. We expect to complete this work this week. We have lost tens of thousands of dollars in food when our freezers and cold storage shut down due to the wildfire-induced power outage.

More than 200 guests, along with our entire staff team, were safely evacuated from the Centre on Aug. 18. Everyone is safe for now. Our staff who live on site, and those in Sorrento, were allowed to return on Aug. 25 and 26. We remain under an evacuation alert due to the nearby and volatile wildfire.

Our Centre will remain closed for guests until it is safe for us to re-open. We need to complete the full assessment of our lands and buildings. We also need to wait until the evacuation alert is lifted. We want to ensure that everything is as safe and healthy as possible.

We monitor and are in daily contact with wildfire and emergency officials, as well as monitoring air quality. In the early days of the wildfire, the smoke was filled with heavy ashes and debris. Now, it appears to be a finer particulate. We encourage all of our staff to wear face masks when outside.

Please continue to monitor our website and social media for daily updates.

You can make an on-line donation (or time or recurring) or you can send a cheque to the Sorrento Centre, 1159 Passchendaele Road, Box 99, Sorrento, BC, V0E 2W0. After being shut down for a week, the Canada Post station in our neighbourhood has re-opened.

Here is a prayer adapted from the Anglican Diocese of Edmonton:

O God, you are our refuge and our strength, our help in times of trouble: Have mercy on the lands, creatures and communities devastated by fires, and especially the people of the North and South Shuswap. Have mercy on those who have lost homes and livelihoods. Protect those who have had to evacuate. Bless and keep safe all firefighters, emergency officials and first-responders, as well as volunteers, who are facing the flames. And strengthen those who seek to rebuild hope that all may face the future without fear. We pray this in the name of Jesus Christ, our Saviour.


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