Our power has stayed on. There was a community meeting last night. With just three hours notice the word got out and the school gym was packed. The good news is that if the phone line goes out, there will be an alternate line linked up within a couple of days -- they're already working on it. More good news -- there are two routes into our community that are not threatened. They require large detours (up to two or three hours) if you're coming from the south, but they're open. And our power is not in jeopardy. The back-up system they've placed is functioning fine, and there are back-ups for that back-up.
The bad news is that whether the fire grows aggressively towards homes is entirely dependent on weather and geography. The firefighters are throwing lots at the fire -- the magnificent Mars waterbomber has been working here, as well as four helicopters and over two hundred firefighters.
The meeting certainly displayed an interesting cross-section of our community. Our emergency co-ordinator, a middle-aged lady who runs the natural foods store, proved herself clear-headed, resourceful, witty, diplomatic and incredibly efficient. The village mayors were their regular common-sense nice-guy selves. Most people were very respectful, understanding and willing to offer help and do what was necessary if things should deteriorate. And then there was the lady who asked why no one was organizing an effort to help wild animals like birds that might get injured by the fire. And the other woman who suggested community prayer circles and a rain dance.
The fire is 10-12 km south of us. A few homes have been evacuated. No homes have burned. About 200 people have been placed on evacuation alert. The town of Silverton, 5 km south of New Denver, is not on evacuation alert. There are two big creeks between us and the area the fire has spread to so we do not feel at all threatened.
We certainly feel a bit guilty about the fact that we're in a sense responsible for bringing almost 200 people into the area tomorrow for a week's music workshop. But it's too late (and would be incredibly costly to an organization that has no financial reserves) to cancel the institute. Our faculty are already arriving, thousands of dollars of accommodations costs and honoraria are payable. The skies are clear and the whole situation will likely just gradually resolve over the next few days.