Wildfire Update (23 09 26)

A message from Executive Director Michael Shapcott, Tuesday, September 26, 2023

Nearby wildfire “being held”!!!

Two brilliant pieces of news: On Monday afternoon, BC Wildfire downgraded the nearby Bush Creek East wildfire to “being held” – which means that it is not likely to expand beyond its current perimeter; and, on Tuesday morning, the Columbia-Shuswap Regional District rescinded the evacuation alert that included the Sorrento Centre and our farm.

The Sorrento Centre and our farm are now fully re-opened. We 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. We have contingency plans in place, if required.

There is not reported loss of life due to the 45,613-hectare, which began with a lightning strike in July. Many of our neighbours in the North and South Shuswap lost homes and their lives and livelihoods have been severely disrupted. We were forced to evacuate almost 200 guests in mid-August, along with our entire staff team. We were allowed to return eight days later, and have lived under the shadow of an evacuation alert until Tuesday morning. This meant we had to be ready to leave on a moment’s notice.

There are still hotspots from the wildfire in the hills overlooking Sorrento and they are being monitored by BC Wildfire and local authorities. BC Wildfires has reported: “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.”

We are deeply grateful for the dedicated efforts of BC Wildfire, local firefighters, first responders, police and local volunteers in tackling the wildfire, which started in mid-July near Adams Lake and then roared through the North and South Shuswap in mid-August. Columbia Shuswap Regional District emergency services provided vital information and practical supports to evacuees, including Sorrento Centre staff and our neighbours. Many individuals, groups and businesses stepped up over the past two months to offer numerous acts of kindness to the thousands of people in our region impacted by the wildfire and evacuations.

As our hearts and minds turn from disaster relief to recovery, the Sorrento Centre is working with neighbouring organizations in the North and South Shuswap through the Community Response Network (which we host). Look for more information in the coming days.  

Damp and chilly weather in recent days helped to diminish the Bush Creek East wildfire, but we all know that the root causes of the terrible and destructive fire are in extreme weather (droughts and wildfire) caused by human-induced climate change.

There will be a time to seriously study the past two months and consider the response to the wildfire – what worked and what didn’t work in tackling the inferno. The real call to action, however, is not to better fight wildfires, but to embrace climate action. We all need to take actions in our own lives for Mother Nature, and we need to raise our voices and work collectively for global, national and local climate justice.  

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