The Rough Fire in central California has now grown to nearly 120,000 acres and is only at 30% containment. Over 2,200 firefighters are battling this enormous fire which was caused by a lightning strike on July 31, 2015. The air quality continues to deteriorate with light ash falling throughout the region. Saint Nicholas Ranch and Retreat Center and the Monastery of the Theotokos the Life Giving Spring, located in Dunlap, CA, are in the immediate area of the fire and as ofFriday, September 11, 2015 they have been ordered to evacuate the premises as the fire is headed in the direction of these properties.

“This is a very serious situation and we are grateful for the valiant efforts of the firefighters who are putting themselves in the path of danger for the safety of others,” stated His Eminence Metropolitan Gerasimos. “We know that our prayers are being heard by the Lord, and we will continue to beseech Him that calm will come over the land, water will pour forth from the sky, and no further destruction will occur.”

The Monastery and Ranch facilities remain closed to the public until the fire situation is under control. The Metropolis Adult Resort Camp scheduled for September 14 – 18 at Saint Nicholas Ranch has been rescheduled for November 9 – 13, 2015. Construction on the Alex and Faye Spanos Faith and Heritage Center has been delayed due to the poor air quality which could jeopardize the health of the workers.  The attached picture shows the deterioration of the skies in the area due to the smoke and ash from the fire.

Ranch Director Michael Pappas and three sisters from the Monastery had remained onsite until the mandatory evacuation was issued this afternoon. All the animals from the Monastery have been transported to safe locations until the fire is contained and no longer a threat to the area. Gerontissa Markella and 18 additional sisters from the Monastery are receiving shelter from the Sisters of Nazareth in Fresno. The Saint George parish in Fresno has opened its doors to the sisters for ongoing prayer and they are also providing meals for them. Several parishes in the Metropolis have been offering Paraklesis services which have provided great comfort and reassurance to so many faithful who love the Ranch and Monastery.

The Metropolis will send continued updates as they are available. Your prayers are encouraged!