Lowell Fire | Clarity

WE ARE THANKFUL FOR YOUR CONTINUED PRAYERS: Today’s requests are at the bottom of this post.

The Lowell Fire that touched down roughly 15-20 miles south west of Camp Alta on Saturday July 25th has now officially been burning for three days. Yesterday July 26th proved to be a day of clarity. First, our friends at YubaNet informed us that the fire had actually only burned 1,500 acres. This was substantially different than the reported 4,000 acres (1,000 acres per hour) and growing report that had shocked most by the end of day Saturday. YubaNet explained in a post the reason for the difference in acreage in the following manner: “Fires, during initial attack, are not mapped. They are eyeballed from the sky – through the smoke – and on the ground, again with flames and smoke. Now that the fire has been mapped by a plane carrying an Infrared camera, the next acreage updates will be much more precise.” 

In addition to the clarity in acreage we spent the majority of the day breathing in clear air. To our surprise the overnight wind consistently blew in the direction of Grass Valley and Nevada City. This left us without any residual smoke all day. If it had not been for the planes and helicopters shaking the tops of our trees we would have had no idea that a fire was even taking place.

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Therefore Camp Alta proceeded with things as usual. We welcomed in 100 plus campers for another week of camp in God’s presence yesterday afternoon. Our ministry partners from Laguna Chinese Baptist Church and Cornerstone Community Church of Sacramento placed their trust in God and embraced the reality of hosting camp near an active forest fire. Below is an image of a scene during dinner on our patio last night as a bit of smoke filled the sky.

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Today July 27th, we awoke to reports that CalFire is anticipating the Lowell Fire to be fully contained by August 1st. Now this does not mean that the fire will be done burning by this date. It simply means that the crews are hoping to have a full handle on it by this time. We also received news that 5-10 mph winds are supposed to start blowing N/NW in the direction of Alta today. This means our campers and community will be submerged in smoke. It also means that there is potential for the fire to redirect.

We ask that you would continue to pray for God’s hand on this fire. Please pray that the winds don’t redirect the fire. We ask that you would pray for the crews that have been working tirelessly on it, their families, and those fighting it from the air (4 firefighters were reportedly submitted to the UC Davis burn center last night). Please be praying for our guests. They have not been distracted by the planes, but the smoke is already having an impact on them this morning. And continue to pray that our faith and our campers faith will be deepened as we lean on Jesus in this time. Thanks for your faithful support. We have been amazed at the amount of people that have reached out.

Lowell Fire Update (Status – SAFE)

At 2:47pm on Saturday July 25th, 2015 Camp Alta was informed that a nearby fire had started. This was ten minutes after Yuba Net had made their first post to their extremely resourceful website documenting the start of the Lowell Fire in Nevada County. As our staff began to research and obtain all of the information we could to pass along to our guests they were already in awe of what was beginning to make itself known in the sky. A large smoke plume building from an approaching crown fire started to crawl through the trees and high into the sky. The concern of what was in the air rightfully had an effect on all of us.

Over the next couple hours as we worked with our guests from Williams Memorial Church and Woodcreek High School to find solutions, our phone began to ring, news reports started to surface, and powerful image after powerful image began to reveal the awe of this growing fire. During this time we began to pray, we invited you all our partners in ministry to pray, and we began to make it publicly known that the whole area (some facing potential evacuation) was in need of prayer. By 5:50pm, a little over three hours later the fire had grown from 100 acres to 3,000 acres (One thousand acres an hour). The concern was growing. Airplanes began to fly overhead. The smoke eclipsed the sun turning the sky pink. And our faith in God deepened. It was strange, yet right!

camp alta lowellfire2015 01As our guests successfully managed to depart camp in an impressive and organized fashion the smoke settled. Camp Alta’s staff, board, and surrounding community were able to gather information from local CalFire, CHP officers, and volunteer firefighters that were on the ground in Dutch Flat. We stationed ourselves out off a nearby lookout (roughly 5 miles from the camp) to gain a better perspective (See image below). Believe it or not, we were encouraged by what we saw. The work that the fire crews had done to initially move the Lowell Fire northward and away from Gold Run, Dutch Flat and Alta was profound.

lowellfire2015Here is a note that followed from Dale Turner, one of Camp Alta’s board members and a retired Assistant Fire Chief with the Sacramento Metropolitan Fire District:

The fire is located in the Lowell Hill area which is West of Alta. The fire is predominately in Nevada County (not Placer county where Camp Alta is located). The fire is currently estimated at 4000 acres and is burning in a northerly direction (which is away from Camp Alta). A good news source is Yuba Net http://yubanet.com/2015Local/Lowell.php. It is possible that conditions will be smoky at Camp Alta Sunday morning until 11:00am as described by the weather service http://yubanet.com/fireuploads/1/CKzqvE_UsAAG_Bm.png_large.jpg I will continue to monitor the fire activity and assist you and our guests as needed.

By no means does this mean the fire is all done burning. In fact we anticipate that it will keep burning for a number of days to come. We just happen to be out of a primary area of concern at this time. This may change, but we trust that Camp Alta, just as it has been for the last 60 years of ministry, is “SAFE.” Part of the reason we trust this is because of the overwhelming prayerful response that flooded us on Saturday evening. It was unique. The presence of God made himself known in multiple ways.

We believe that God will continue to protect our 20 acres as well as our surrounding community. We are planning to proceed as normal by welcoming in guests for camp on Sunday. Please continue to pray that the wind and heat stay at a minimum. Please pray for the 500+ personnel that are servicing the fire. Please check back here as well as our Facebook and Instagram pages for ongoing updates. Thank you. (Jeremiah 17:7-8)