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BC Wildfires affect LCC congregations

July 24, 2017 One Comment

Active wildfires in BC as of July 24, 2017. (Map: BC Wildfire Service)

BC Interior – Wildfires raging in the British Columbia interior are affecting Lutheran Church–Canada (LCC) congregations. Rev. Noel Smith, who serves St. John Evangelical Lutheran Church in Williams Lake, reported he is part of the evacuation of more than 10,000 residents. The pastor noted in a July 17 post on Facebook that “the good people of our sister church in Kamloops are organizing a list of people willing to open their homes to those now stranded in Kamloops.” Kamloops is almost 300 km southeast of Williams Lake. He reported that some area highways are closed due to the fires.

In Kamloops, Dave Fulton, a member of Lord of Life Lutheran Church, works at a hotel that is housing evacuees. He says they arrive “in many different moods, afraid, angry, nervous, accepting, confused, but mostly fear. Everyone had to grab what they could and leave (including their pets) quickly. Some people lost their homes and only had what was in their car as their only possessions.”

“I talked to a fire fighter and he told me how fast the fires are going across the grass and trees and the efforts the fire fighters are doing to help people—day after day after day,” he continued. “These people are doing an amazing task under stressful and dangerous conditions” Fulton reported.

More than 43,000 BC residents remain evacuated from at-risk communities.

Two weeks ago, authorities issued an evacuation notice for 100 Mile House, home of LCC congregation Christ the King Evangelical Lutheran Church. This past weekend authorities worked to downgrade the situation to an evacuation alert and allow residents to return home. A similar action is being considered for Williams Lake.

The fires did not destroy any homes or property within the city boundaries of Williams Lake and 100 Mile House.

A recent edition of the e-newsletter ABC Connect published by the district office suggested that “in the coming days and weeks, we will try to determine how we might additionally assist the congregations that are situated in these BC communities.” The ABC District continues asking for prayers for all those who are anxious and homeless because of the fires, and for the safety of the fire fighters which now include a team from Australia.

Currently there are more than 150 wildfires burning in British Columbia, 22 considered “wildfires of note.” BC Wildfire Services expects the emergency status to continue for at least two more weeks.

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  • Rev. Robert Clifford

    You don’t have to publish this comment, but you can correct the article – paragraph 5:
    100 Mile House, BC congregation is presently vacant (served by Williams Lake). Former Pastor Rev. Kahle was recently installed (June 18) in a dual parish in Alberta – see “The Canadian Lutheran” magazine May/June 2017 pg38.