Wildfire Update (23 09 08)

A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Friday, Sept. 8, 2023

Wildfire “a bit more active”

The Bush Creek East wildfire continues to burn west and south of the Sorrento Centre. BC Wildfire is warning that the blaze, which has settled at ground level and below ground, could get “a bit more active” over the weekend. More smoke and flames could be visible as temperatures rise in the next few days to the upper 20s.

The Sorrento Centre remains on evacuation alert due to the nearby wildfire, which means we are ready to leave at a moment’s notice. Our staff are working on a safe re-opening plan that should see us fully operational by Sept. 14 to welcome two expressive arts groups.

The Sorrento Centre safely evacuated almost 200 guests, plus our staff, on Aug. 18, when the fast-moving wildfire roared through North Shuswap and then travelled 20k in less than 12 hours through Squilax to the edge of Sorrento. Many of our neighbours in North Shuswap and Squilax lost their homes and other buildings.

Although the fire remains active, it has not moved in the past week. In addition to the evacuation alert, the Sorrento Centre remains under a boil water advisory. The air quality has improved as smoke has cleared, but the air quality alert remains for our area.

The latest report from BC Wildfire: “We may see temperatures in the mid to upper twenties and lower humidity this weekend, which will cause the fire to become a bit more active. We will see more smoke and some spots of the fire that have not been active will start to generate some smoke. In the afternoons we may start to see more open flames, and potentially see those flames move from the surface and begin to move to the treetops. It’s not likely we will see the fire move from tree to tree, but if winds pick up, we may see that for short periods of time. Most of the fire behaviour we are likely to see will be more open flames, more smoke, and some fire growth in the afternoon. Sunday is forecast to have a bit more wind, so that is the day we are likely to see the fire at its most active.”

A helicopter was flying overhead on Friday carrying water from the Shuswap to douse the flames (as has happened daily since it was safe for aircraft to fly after smoky skies reduced visibility to unsafe levels). BC Wildfire crews in the air and on the ground, as well as local firefighters, first responders and volunteers have been battling the wildfire.

In addition to staff working throughout our main campus to clean-up and prepare for our guests, our farmer Angelo has been working with the farm team to continue the harvest of our fields. We had already started to harvest before the evacuation in mid-August. During the eight days we were away, some of our produce was spoiled. This week, we delivered some produce to area farmers to serve as animal feed. We also send a large delivery to the food bank for people who are hungry. On Thursday, we invited our neighbours to pick up pumpkins and lots of other produce that was picked that day. We sold out of a big harvest in less than two hours.

As blue skies and sunshine have poured over our beloved Centre in the last few days, we hold up the words of the prayer for harvest from the Anglican Foundation of Canada:

Creator God, we give thanks for the beauty of our world: for sky, water, air, and earth. Help us to care for our planet every day and to give thanks for all the good things you provide: daily food, rest, play, family, and friends. Amen.

The Sorrento Centre monitors fire activity, as well as air and water quality, and will adjust re-opening plans as required. We will post regular updates on our website and social media.

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