Since a storm on July 7, wildfires have been raging in British Columbia – up to 220-240 of them over the past days (the CBC reports that number has dropped to 183 earlier today, but the heat wave continues and winds are expected Saturday). Evacuations are proving difficult for some because of lack of gasoline, and livestock are threatened as well as homes. Homes on the Ashcroft Indian reserve have been destroyed. From the Anglican Journal:
Of the 14,000 people who have been evacuated so far, Andrews estimates roughly 1,000 are Anglicans.
All 2,000 residents of 100 Mile House have been evacuated, including the Rev. Keith Dobyns, the Rev. Kristen Dobyns and Canon Thelma Sharkey, deacon of St. Timothy’s Anglican Church, as have the residents of Cache Creek, she said. The 10,000 citizens of Williams Lake are currently on evacuation alert, and the fire has already destroyed houses on the reserve of the Ashcroft Indian Band, according to media reports.
Anglicans are also assisting with relief efforts:
“We’re in it for the long haul here,” said [Bishop Barbara Andrews of the Central Interior-based Territory of the People], noting that the Territory of the People has responded by registering its buildings with emergency services as overflow, should the number of evacuees increase.
She has also assured the parishes in the territory that their bills will be paid and payroll will be maintained.
“We may need to ask for help from the larger church if this goes on too long, but at this point, we are just saying to the churches, ‘We will take care of what we need to take care of for you, and sort it out at the end of the day,’ ” said Andrews.
Andrews said her own headquarters, St. Paul’s Anglican Cathedral in Kamloops, will be one of the first places the province turns to in housing evacuees because it is equipped with a large kitchen and mattresses that are used during the out-of-the-cold program in winter.
St. Paul’s is also providing spiritual support to those affected by the fires.
On July 12, St. Paul’s will hold an all-day prayer vigil, to which evacuees—especially Anglican evacuees—have been encouraged to come.
Andrews asked Anglicans across the country for prayers, keeping in mind the people of the Central Interior, their leaders, the firefighters who have been battling the conflagrations around the clock, and the evacuees.
“I think anyone that is living in emergency shelters are living under extreme stress and uncertainty, and need our prayers,” she said. “Pray for rain.”
Photo from Anglican Journal; credit: Instagram Photo: @clinttrahan