Shambhala Mountain Center Shares Update on Fire Damage
One of the most renown structures within this area is the Shambhala Mountain Center. The Shambhala Mountain Center has served as a retreat and place of worship since 1971, offering hundreds of programs on Buddhist meditation, yoga and other contemplative disciplines and welcoming anyone who would like to visit with open arms. At 108 feet tall, the Great Stupa is one of the most significant examples of sacred Buddhist architecture in North America.
While firefighters made valiant efforts to protect the property, it unfortunately faced some significant damage, as announced by the center's executive director, Michael Gayner, on September 29.
SMC held a virtual town hall on October 3 to answer questions and provide updates.
Since staff is still evacuated, the total extent of the destruction is not yet known, but Gayner was able to visit the site and posted photos of the aftermath, which display a great amount of damage that was done. Assessment has just begun, and some structures have more insurance, or different specifications and deductibles than others.
Hot spots and smoky areas remain on the property. The wooded pine and aspen groves that surrounded The Stupa are now charred.
Several of the Stupa Support buildings were completely engulfed in flames, but the Stupa itself is confirmed to be intact, as well as the bridge leading up to it. There's some smoke damage to the exterior though, and the contents inside do need a good cleaning.
Some of the SMC staff who lived on the property have also lost their homes and possessions, and according to Gayner, insurance does not cover some of the old heritage housing. About 20 staff members are currently displaced. Efforts will be focused on rebuilding these homes within the village. A retreat cabin was also fully destroyed.
One of the Maitri Buildings burned down, but the other remains intact. Gayner expressed relief that since one remains, they have a blueprint of how to build back the other. In addition, one of bathhouses also burned down, while the second remained standing.
All of the downtown buildings, except one, were saved. The fire also did not get near the waste water facility. According to Gayner, firefighters protected the garden, and the greenhouse was out of the line of the fire.
The SMC has been closed to visitors the past few months due to COVID-19.