Smoke from wild­fire may im­pact 49ers’ Mon­day night game

The Sacramento Bee - - Sports - BY CHRIS BI­DER­MAN cbi­der­man@sacbee.com

The smoke from the Camp Fire de­scended on the San Fran­cisco 49ers Santa Clara fa­cil­ity Fri­day, caus­ing the team to change its prac­tice hours and the NFL to mon­i­tor con­di­tions that could af­fect Mon­day’s game.

For now, the league said it has no im­me­di­ate plans to change the lo­ca­tion of the game against the New York Gi­ants or its kick­off time. But an NFL spokesman said that could change in the three days lead­ing up to the game if the air qual­ity doesn’t im­prove and stays at un­healthy lev­els.

“Air qual­ity is an im­por­tant as­pect of a safe game day en­vi­ron­ment,” the league wrote in its game op­er­a­tions man­ual. “The big­gest health risk oc­curs when lev­els of par­tic­u­late mat­ter rise to a level that can ir­ri­tate the air­ways and cause breath­ing prob­lems, es­pe­cially dur­ing ex­er­cise.”

The smoke from the Butte County fire, 230 miles north­east of Santa Clara, forced the 49ers to push their prac­tice up Fri­day more than one hour, from 1:50 p.m. to 12:45 p.m., to avoid wors­en­ing con­di­tions later in the af­ter­noon. The Air Qual­ity In­dex (AQI) reached 182 mid­way through their prac­tice, which is con­sid­ered “un­healthy.” The team likely would have re­mained in­doors if the AQI reached 200, which is con­sid­ered the “very un­healthy” thresh­old in which out­door ex­er­cise is not rec­om­mended.

The Raiders, who prac­tice 35 miles north in Alameda, changed their nor­mal Fri­day prac­tice to a walk-through be­cause of the air con­di­tions. They’re sched­uled to host the Los An­ge­les Charg­ers in Oak­land on Sun­day, but smoke com­ing from the fires in Butte County could af­fect that game if the wind pat­terns don’t change.

At least nine peo­ple have been killed by the fire, of­fi­cials said Fri­day. An es­ti­mated 6,700 struc­tures have burned mak­ing the blaze the most de-

struc­tive in state his­tory. Con­tain­ment Fri­day af­ter­noon was 5 per­cent, and the fire could lead to wors­en­ing air qual­ity through­out North­ern Cal­i­for­nia.

A 49ers spokesman said any de­ci­sion to change the game’s kick­off time or lo­ca­tion would be made more than 24 hours in ad­vance – and that teams gen­er­ally are re­quired to be at the lo­ca­tion of the game roughly 24 hours ahead of kick­off.

That means if the league were to change the game’s lo­ca­tion – move it to Ari­zona, for ex­am­ple – that de­ci­sion would likely be made by Sun­day. An­other op­tion could be to move the game to Tues­day night al­low­ing air con­di­tions more time to im­prove.

The 49ers are to have their bye next week, while the Gi­ants are com­ing off theirs, mak­ing reschedul­ing to some point later in the sea­son highly un­likely.

The NFL last moved a “Mon­day Night Foot­ball” game in 2003 when wild­fires en­gulfed San Diego, push­ing the Charg­ers and Mi­ami Dol­phins game to Sun Devil Sta­dium in Tempe, Ariz. How­ever, fires were far closer to the game’s orig­i­nal venue, Qual­comm Sta­dium, than the Camp Fire is to Santa Clara. Qual­comm’s park­ing lot was used as an evac­u­a­tion cen­ter and the lo­gis­tics of han­dling an NFL game would have likely been im­pos­si­ble to pull off.

The last time the 49ers had a home Mon­day night game moved came in 1989. That game against the New Eng­land Pa­tri­ots was changed from Can­dle­stick Park to nearby Stan­ford Sta­dium in Palo Alto af­ter the Loma Pri­eta earth­quake.

The Los An­ge­les Rams can­celed their prac­tice Fri­day due to the Woolsey Fire in Thou­sand Oaks, Calif. ESPN re­ported 45 mem­bers of the or­ga­ni­za­tion, in­clud­ing roughly 20 play­ers and coaches, were forced to evac­u­ate their homes. There are no im­me­di­ate plans to change the start time or lo­ca­tion of their home game Sun­day against the Seat­tle Sea­hawks at the L.A. Coli­seum. 49ers as­sis­tant strength and con­di­tion­ing coach Shane Wallen was af­fected directly by the Camp Fire. He grew up in Par­adise and his fa­ther lost his home this week to the fire.

Play­ers such as tight end Ge­orge Kit­tle, re­ceiver Mar­quise Good­win, quar­ter­back Nick Mul­lens all tweeted their sup­port of Wallen, who set up a GoFundMe ac­count to raise money for re­lief ef­forts.

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