A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Wednesday, Aug. 30, 2023
There was a highly visible flare-up of the out-of-control Bush Creek East wildfire overnight on Tuesday a short distance from our main campus and farm in Sorrento.
Wailing sirens from response teams including BC Wildfire and local firefighters kept nearby residents awake in the early hours of Wednesday. A light rain Wednesday was welcomed, but there is lots more smoke is billowing from the wildfire to the south and west of the Sorrento Centre and our farm.
Our neighbours and our Centre remain under evacuation alert. A helicopter returned Wednesday morning to fight the flames. Yesterday and in previous days, it flew directly over our farm. On Wednesday it was slightly east, suggesting the fire perimeter may have shifted.
All our staff and neighbours are safe for now. One local egg farm is reported fire-damaged. Structure protection crews are in our area. More info, including the latest update from BC Wildfire, in a moment.
First, an update from our farm, about a kilometre from the wildfire. The smoke was slightly diminished Wednesday morning after light rain. All our staff are under strict orders to stay safe and monitor their personal health. Some staff are working, if it is safe to do so, while taking precautions. There is considerable cleaning, office and maintenance work on the main campus.
Farmer Angelo was working in the fields of our farm, with farm hand Michael, on Wednesday. With a helicopter flying overhead, a fire truck using our country road to access lake water and smoke billowing to the south, there is plenty of activity. Executive Director Michael Shapcott and his dog Phoebe live in a log cabin in the forest at the farm.
We have lots of produce being harvested at the farm. All good produce will go to the food bank for our neighbours. There is a great need for fresh produce as many people are still on evacuation order or alert. Far too many people are going hungry in the Shuswap (many before the current wildfire crisis). We will be taking a truck load to the food bank today. Other produce that is spoiled will go to our neighbours with animals as feed.
Our friends at the Shuswap Food Action Society and others are continuing to tackle systemic food security. We are grateful we can offer good food for our neighbours. Our friends at the Shuswap Climate Action Society organize around climate change issues, and we are grateful to support their work, as well. We urge everyone, even as we focus today on disaster relief, to engage with others in big issues that require big action.
There is a great need for immediate assistance, and we urge our friends far and near to offer practical assistance, including financial help, to groups working locally. At the Sorrento Centre, we are accepting financial and other donations for our own needs and for our neighbours. You can make a safe and secure on-line donation by clicking this button:
On Wednesday morning, BC Wildfire issued an official update confirming that the out-of-control Bush Creek East wildfire had flared-up to the south and west of Sorrento overnight. Wildfire crews and firefighters were dispatched and created fire guards to stop the advance of the flames towards Sorrento. Winds, including gusts, are forecast for Wednesday, which could continue to cause fire growth and smoke.
There will be plenty of smoke again on Wednesday, but the fire is being held within newly created fire guards.
BC Wildfire issued this update on Wednesday morning for the Bush Creek East wildfire, which continues to threaten much of the North and South Shuswap: “Today, temperatures will be significantly cooler with the possibility of precipitation and a risk of thunderstorms to follow this evening. The forecasted winds were delayed into the late evening yesterday, persisted overnight and will continue into the early afternoon today. 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.”
For the Sorrento Centre, our farm, and our immediate neighbours, BC Wildfire has this update as of Wednesday morning: “Fire activity increased behind Sorrento last night, a crew along with the local fire department responded. The fire is currently holding with the work done last night. Today (Wednesday), a unit crew and heavy helicopters will be responding, and structure protection is in place on the values adjacent to this area of the fire. Heavy machinery is constructing guard to the east of Turtle Valley and crews are securing the guard with wet line and small-scale hand ignitions again today. In areas that are too steep for machinery to access crews will continue with hand guard construction.”
We are grateful to BC Wildfire, local firefighters and volunteers who are fighting the wildfire with determination. We are grateful to our many neighbours who individually and in groups are providing numerous acts of kindness to those who are suffering in this wildfire. We are grateful to play our part at the Sorrento Centre in supporting our neighbours.
For more information:
- Shuswap Food Action: https://shuswapfood.ca
- Shuswap Climate Action: https://www.shuswapclimate.org
- Anglican Communion Environmental Network: https://acen.anglicancommunion.org
We will continue to post daily updates for our area on our website and on social media. Our dear friends at Camp OAC in Kelowna are taking stock after a devastating wildfire there. More detailed information here: https://www.kootenayanglican.ca/news/bc-wildfires-diocesan-updates-donations.
Here is a prayer for hope from our Episcopal siblings at the Washington National Cathedral:
God of the present moment, God who in Jesus stills the storm and soothes the frantic heart; bring hope and courage to all who wait or work in uncertainty. Bring hope that you will make them the equal of whatever lies ahead. Bring them courage to endure what cannot be avoided, for your will is health and wholeness; you are God, and we need you. Amen.