ALAMEDA, Calif. (AP) – The Oakland Raiders adjusted their practice schedule Wednesday because of poor air quality resulting from the wildfires in nearby wine country.
The Raiders took the practice field in smoky conditions with even some ash falling from the sky. The Environmental Protection Agency said the air was “unhealthy” in Alameda, about 40 miles from the fires.
The Raiders shortened their practice by eliminating individual drills in an effort to limit the amount of time players spent outside.
Coach Jack Del Rio said earlier in the day that the team had people monitoring the air quality to determine whether it was safe to practice.
“We think we’re OK to work today in this,” he said. “We’re monitoring the different levels of smoke that is here and we’re going to make sure we do the right things with our guys.”
Oakland later decided to reschedule Thursday’s practice, having it start at 11 a.m. rather than 1:45 p.m. in hopes of better air quality earlier in the day.
At least 21 people have died and 3,500 homes and businesses have been destroyed since the fires started Sunday, making them the third-deadliest and most destructive blazes in state history.
The Raiders teamed with the Bay Area’s other pro sports teams to donate $450,000 to support the fire relief efforts. The Raiders, 49ers, Athletics, Giants, Warriors, Sharks and Earthquakes also set up a website (www.youcaring.com/firerelief ) for fans to make their own donations.
“When a tragedy hits this close to home, we feel it’s our duty to get involved and to help our community and those who have been impacted,” A’s President Dave Kaval said. “We are proud to team up with all of the Bay Area professional sports teams to support North Bay disaster relief efforts.”
The Raiders have a particularly strong relationship with the areas affected by the fire because they hold training camp in Napa each summer and have formed bonds in the community there.
“My heart really goes out to the families,” quarterback Derek Carr said. “When something like that happens and then someone tells you what it really is, you just sit there and think you’re fortunate, you’re blessed. Our thoughts and prayers are with all the families that have lost houses, loved ones. That kind of stuff, that’s real life. That’s hard. Being 2-3 is not hard when we really think about it. Doing that kind of stuff, that’s what’s really hard. Our prayers are with them that they can have peace and encouragement.”
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