Wildfire Update (23 09 15)

A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Friday, September 15, 2023

Plenty of smoke from nearby wildfire

There was lots of smoke billowing up from the Bush Creek East wildfire, burning near to the Sorrento Centre and our farm, on Friday morning.

BC Wildfire reports increased fire activity (smoke and flames) is expected today and through the weekend. However, the out-of-control wildfire remains within the fire perimeter established in the past two weeks, including hand guards and machine guards.

The Sorrento Centre has safely re-opened. Our first two groups of overnight guests arrived on Thursday, and we have day and multi-day events scheduled into the fall and winter. Please check our website at www.sorrentocentre.ca as some events have been modified or postponed due to the wildfire.  

Environment Canada has issued another air quality bulletin due to the wildfire smoke. While the winds have been blowing much smoke away from Sorrento, there is fine particulate in the air. We encourage staff and guests to use face masks when outdoors, especially with strenuous activity or if they have health issues. We offer face masks in our office.

BC Wildfire reported on Friday morning that crews are continuing to tackle hotspots on the edge of Sorrento. Across the North and South Shuswap, the fire has grown slightly in the last two weeks to its current estimated size of 43,326 hectares (433 square kilometres) but has not moved beyond the fire perimeter in the hills to the south of Sorrento.

“As warm and dry conditions persist and fuels continue to dry, fire behaviour is expected to continue to increase as this drying trend continues through the weekend. Deeper burning fuels may increase in fire activity as temperatures and winds increase,” according to BC Wildfire. That means more smoke and more flames as trees candle within the fire perimeter.

The smoke and flames are expected to continue until there is a heavy rain (not in the forecast) or until the snow falls in the early winter. Specialist crews are in the air and on the ground working on hotspots near Sorrento, and the fire is being monitored day and night.

When the Bush Creek East wildfire roared through North Shuswap and then South Shuswap, our Centre was forced to evacuate almost 200 guests on Aug. 18, along with our staff. Eight days later, we were allowed to return, but we remain on evacuation alert, which means we are ready to leave at a moment’s notice. All our staff, guests and neighbours are safe.  

While we continue to monitor fire behaviour and air quality to ensure the well-being of our guests, our staff and our neighbours, we are turning to recovery and re-building. Many of our neighbours, especially in the North Shuswap, lost homes and other buildings. Their lives and livelihoods have been severely disrupted.

The Sorrento Centre will continue to publish updates as required over the coming days.

We are grateful for the many prayers offered by our friends near and far, which are a great comfort to us. We also urge our friends to pray with their feet and call for climate justice for our groaning world. There are plenty of local groups worldwide who are organizing for action, including our neighbours at Shuswap Climate Action < https://www.shuswapclimate.org >.

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