Wildfire Update (23 09 02)

A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Saturday, Sept. 2, 2023

It was a sunny Saturday over Sorrento as the out-of-control Bush Creek East wildfire continued to send plumes of smoke into the air nearby. Thankfully, the heavy smoke shroud from recent days has lifted.

An evacuation order for some of our neighbours close to the Sorrento Centre farm was lifted early Saturday afternoon. An evacuation alert remains for Sorrento and some surrounding areas, which means we need to be ready to leave at a moment’s notice.

About 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 at 43,067 hectares or almost 431 square kilometres.

There has been extensive damage in the North Shuswap reported to date, with more than 200 homes and other structures destroyed or fire-damaged. Structure protection crew are working in Sorrento to prevent property damage. There has been no reported loss of life in the Shuswap due to the wildfire.

On Friday, it was reported that there were 172 firefighters and 76 support staff from BC Wildfire battling the Bush Creek East fire. There are 14 helicopters (including several that have been dousing flames in Sorrento in recent days), 90 pieces of heavy equipment and 70 structure protection personnel. There are also local firefighters, first responders and police, along with trained volunteers and others as part of the effort to contain the Shuswap wildfire. Emergency operations staff and volunteers are providing support to people forced to flee the fire.

The Sorrento Centre safely evacuated about 200 guests and our staff on Aug. 18. Many of our Sorrento neighbours were also ordered to leave. We were able to return after eight days, but we remain under evacuation alert. All our staff are safe for now. We are completing a full assessment of our lands and buildings for damages due to wildfire, smoke and power outage.

Here is the Saturday morning update from BC Wildfire: “Although ‘recoveries’ (dew on the ground) have been generally excellent overnight, residents will see fuels burning within the perimeter of the fire. Crews are working to contain the fire within a perimeter, then unburnt fuels continue to burn while homes and infrastructure are protected by Structure Protection where and as needed.”

Firefighters and volunteers are continuing to tackle the active wildfire in Sorrento, close to our main campus and very close to our farm. Crews have been assigned to tackle “hotspots” just south of us.  

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

While it has been a generally hot and dry summer, our farm has been a place of abundance. Farmer Angelo, who joined the staff team in the spring, has brought the fields to life. Before the wildfire crisis, fresh produce from the farm was going into our kitchen for our guests, as well as into the community. With no guests on campus, the current harvest of tomatoes and other vegetables is going to the food bank, with spoiled produce going to our neighbours for animal feed.

Our tomato harvest this year is ongoing, and has been particularly bountiful.

As we enter into a holiday weekend, and our hard-working staff team take a well-deserved break, we offer up this prayer of gratitude. Even in the midst of wildfire crisis, we are thankful to live in such a beautiful part of this world:

We give you thanks, most gracious God, for the beauty of earth and sky and sea;

for the richness of mountains, plains, and rivers; for the songs of birds and the loveliness of flowers.

We praise you for these good gifts, and pray that we may safeguard them for our posterity.

Grant that we may continue to grow in our grateful enjoyment of your abundant creation, to the honor and glory of your Name, now and forever.


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 online donation (one-time or recurring) or you can send a cheque to the Sorrento Centre, 1159 Passchendaele Road, Box 99, Sorrento, BC, V0E 2W0.

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

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