Wildfire Update (23 09 01)

A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Friday, Sept. 1, 2023

The out-of-control Bush Creek East wildfire continues to burn close to the Sorrento Centre and our farm, with BC Wildfire warning that “increased fire behaviour is expected” over the holiday weekend.

Two weeks ago, two large wildfires merged into a major fire that roared through the North Shuswap and crossed over to the South Shuswap including the southern and western edges of Sorrento. The fire is estimated, as of Friday, at 43,067 hectares or almost 431 square kilometres.

We safely evacuated about 200 guests, our entire staff and many neighbours one week ago today. We were able to return after eight days, but we remain under evacuation alert – which means that we are ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Yesterday, some of our neighbours in the southern part of Sorrento were ordered once again to evacuate. All of our staff are safe for now.

Here is the Friday morning weather update from BC Wildfire: “The showers ended yesterday evening with the air clearing overnight. An upper ridge will be pushing into central BC today, bringing warmer and drier conditions, but still with light winds. A cold front will be passing over the region on Sunday, bringing light to moderate gusty west winds, showers or thunderstorms and temperatures in the teens. Monday will be unsettled, with temperatures remaining in the teens, but with light west winds.”

Increased fire activity is expected on Saturday and Sunday, according to BC Wildfire: “Precipitation received on the fire was variable. In some areas rain did not penetrate the canopy. Temperatures are expected to increase incrementally over the next two days with a breakdown in the pattern Sunday when winds are expected to pick up and increased fire behaviour is expected. Crews will mitigate the impacts of this weather system by completing control lines and hose lays. Residents can expect to see burning within the perimeter of the fire. Crews contain a fire within a perimeter, allow unburnt fuels to continue to burn while protecting homes and infrastructure as with structure protection where and as needed.”

BC Wildfire crews on the ground and in the air are working with local firefighters, first responders and volunteers to douse spot fires in Sorrento and Notch Hill caused when flaming embers from the fire are caught in the wind. Machine guards and hand guards have been created to slow the spread of the fire. Hoses have been laid in part of Turtle Valley, immediately to the west of Sorrento, to help firefighting.

There has been no reported loss of life due to the wildfire. The early damage assessments for the North Shuswap including the loss of about 180 homes and buildings. Structure protection teams are in Sorrento to prevent the loss of buildings.

Our maintenance, office, grounds, housekeeping and kitchen staff are continuing the clean-up and assessing of the damage, to date. The work will continue into next week, with staff taking a well-deserved break for the labour day weekend.

The Centre remains closed and we will not re-open until it is safe to do so. We do not know when it is safe to do so.

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

We are grateful to our many friends near and far away who are holding us up in thoughts and prayers. We are grateful to those who are able to make a financial donation to help us as we continue to weather this crisis. You can make an on-line donation (one time or recurring) or you can send a cheque to the Sorrento Centre, 1159 Passchendaele Road, Box 99, Sorrento, BC, V0E 2W0.

We offer a prayer for strength, and rest, and healing:

For our neighbours, displaced and distraught,

We pray for strength, and rest and healing.

For those under the fear of evacuation,

We pray for strength, and rest and healing.

For firefighters and first responders and volunteers,

We pray for strength, and rest and healing.

For our beloved Centre and its staff,

We pray for strength, and rest and healing.

We give thanks for the many acts of kindness,

We pray for strength, and rest and healing.


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