Wildfire Update (23 09 25)

A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Monday, September 25, 2023

Damp and chilly weather – hooray!!!

Scattered showers on Monday morning, more scattered showers for Monday evening and the following days. Scattered showers this past weekend. Seasonal temperatures in the mid-teens. A chance of snow in the higher elevations.

A damp and chilly late September may not be everyone’s idea of a perfect fall, but after two and one-half months of living under the shadow of an out-of-control wildfire, the current weather is an answer to prayers.

The Sorrento Centre and our farm remain under an evacuation alert due to the nearby Bush Creek East wildfire, but fire activity has diminished in recent days and we are turning our hearts and minds to recovery for our region.  

The 45,613 hectare wildfire is still classified as out-of-control by BC Wildfire, though the fire perimeter has not grown in recent days. There is no reported loss of life due to the wildfire which began in mid-July. Many of our neighbours in the North and South Shuswap lost homes and their lives and livelihoods have been severely disrupted.

The Sorrento Centre and our farm were not directly fire-damaged, though we had to evacuate about 200 guests and our staff in mid-August. We were forced to cancel our single biggest musical event of the year – the annual NimbleFingers festival. The losses in revenue are continuing to mount and could total more than $500,000. We were able to safely re-open our Centre in mid-September and are welcoming new and returning guests.

BC Wildfire crews continue to tackle wildfire hotspots in the hills overlooking the Sorrento Centre. There is visible smoke, although Environment Canada has cancelled its air quality alert. There is fine particulate matter in the air, especially in the valley where our farm is located. For much of the past two months, we have had poor air quality due to smoke. Our drinking water is monitored frequently by municipal authorities and is reported to be clear. There was a boil water advisory in mid-August due to the wildfire.

BC Wildfires reports: “nearby communities can still expect to see smoke within the perimeter over the coming weeks. This is common with large wildfires and will continue until significant rainfall or snowfall.”

The Sorrento Centre will continue to monitor several times daily reliable and official sources for updated information on the wildfire, air quality and water quality to ensure the health and well-being of our guests, staff and neighbours. However, we will not be posting further updates on our website or social media until there is new information to share.

We are grateful for the diligent and ongoing actions of BC Wildfire, local firefighters, volunteers, first responders and police in tackling the Bush Creek East wildfire. We are grateful for the practical assistance from the emergency services at Columbia Shuswap Regional District in ensuring accommodation, food and other necessities for evacuees. We are grateful for the many, many acts of kindness from our friends and neighbours.

Since we returned from evacuation, and found an abundance of produce on our farm, we have been able to share with our neighbours as well as local foodbanks. We have another major harvest on Thursday and invite anyone to visit our main campus at 1159 Passchendaele Road at 1 pm to pick up fresh vegetables from our farm at the bargain price of $1 per pound.

We are grateful to our many friends who held up our Centre and our staff in prayer during these challenging times. Your heart-felt words have comforted and supported all of us.

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