Wildfire Update (23 09 05)

A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Tuesday, Sept. 5, 2023

Smouldering wildfire continues to burn

The out-of-control Bush Creek East wildfire was throwing up plumes of smoke on Tuesday. The 43,084 hectare (431 square kilometre) wildfire continues to burn close to the main campus of the Sorrento Centre and our farm.

The fire perimeter has stabilized in the last few days and BC Wildfire reported on Tuesday that it is “rank 1” – fire activity at ground level or underground. BC Wildfire, local firefighters and volunteers are fighting the fire with hand tools. One or two helicopters fly daily (including Tuesday) to douse the fire with water from the Shuswap.

The Sorrento Centre and our farm remain under evacuation alert – which means we are ready to leave on a moment’s notice – along with our neighbours in west Sorrento.

Students are returning on Wednesday to Sorrento Elementary School (immediately adjacent to our main campus). School buses will be parked on our campus to be ready to escort children and teachers to safety if an evacuation is ordered.

Our Centre will remain closed until it is safe to re-open. Our staff met for a debrief and lunch on Tuesday. Our hard-working team evacuated almost 200 guests on Aug. 18 before leaving themselves. Everyone, including all our neighbours, are safe. Our assessment of the impact of the wildfire, smoke and power outage will continue. In addition to the evacuation alert, there is an air quality advisory, as well as a boil water advisory – all triggered by the wildfire. The provincial government has extended its state of emergency.

We hope to re-open in a matter of days and may be able to set a date for re-opening as early as Wednesday. We will continue to post regular updates.

The wildfire forced the closing our beloved Centre at our busiest time of the summer. The year 2023 is our 60th anniversary. Throughout this past summer, we invited our many guests to paint a shell with their wishes, hopes, dreams and thoughts for our Centre. On the recent holiday weekend, we started to hang the shells on the horse chestnut tree next to Spes Bona, our admin building. This photo shows some of the lovely shells.

The Sorrento Centre, like the rest of our world, has lived through times of uncertainty and distress in recent years. We have held tight these words of wisdom from our long-time friend Herb O’Driscoll, who has written:

“To be truly wise is to search for what is coming to birth in an age of death, to search for what is beginning anew in an age when much seems to be ending.”

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.

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