The wildfires raging in Northern California are not only destroying property, they’re causing horrible air quality in the Bay Area.
On Wednesday, the Environmental Protection Agency downgraded the air around Alameda, where the Oakland Raiders practice, from moderate to unhealthy on its six-point scale; just to the north of Alameda, it is rated very unhealthy to hazardous.
Raiders coach Jack Del Rio told reporters that team officials would be monitoring the situation in regards to practice, to make sure they were doing right by players.
So by the time Oakland began practice, around 4:45 p.m. ET, the decision had been made to shorten the session. Michael Gehlken, who covers the team for the Las Vegas Journal-Review, posted that individual drills were canceled, white ash was falling from the sky and the sun was tinted from the smoke in the air. He also tweeted that the air smelled like a cookout.
Raiders are practicing while ash is falling from sky. But schedule changed because of air quality. Shorter. Individual drills canceled. pic.twitter.com/5ApuaBnQ4J
— Michael Gehlken (@GehlkenNFL) October 11, 2017
Oakland is scheduled to host the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday. While Del Rio announced on Oct. 2 that quarterback Derek Carr had suffered a transverse process fracture in his back and would be out 2-6 weeks, Carr has been practicing and reportedly will play against the Chargers.
The Raiders and the six other professional sports teams in the Bay Area – the 49ers, A’s, Giants, Sharks, Warriors, and Earthquakes – announced on Wednesday that they were combining to donate $450,000 to support relief efforts in the area. They are encouraging others to give as well, setting up a YouCaring page for donations.
The fires, which began on Sunday, have already destroyed over 2,000 structures; as of Wednesday, 21 people had been reported dead and dozens were missing.
Legendary Raiders receiver Cliff Branch is one of those who lost his home. Branch had lived in his Santa Rosa house for 22 years. He told a reporter that when his attorney called him early Monday morning telling him he had to evacuate because of the raging fire, “First thing I did was grab my three Super Bowl rings, my money, and I left.”
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