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Bay Area air quality concerns grow for Cal vs. Washington State

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Will conditions on Friday night be safe enough to play a football game?

Multiple Wildfires Destroy Homes, Threaten California Wine Country Photo by Justin Sullivan/Getty Images

If you have a connection to the Bay Area and Northern California, then there’s little doubt that you or someone you know and love have been impacted by the devastating fires sweeping through Napa and Sonoma counties over the last week.

And if you’re currently living in Northern California, then you have no choice but to notice the impact of the fires every time you look outside. Heck, I’m in Sacramento and the air quality has been such that even short walks outside can cause chest pain and shortness of breath for some folks susceptible to breathing difficulty.

Bay Area air quality monitors currently list outdoor air conditions as unhealthy. That reading could change in 24 hours, but it’s unlikely to drastically improve. Needless to say, this raises questions about whether or not it’s safe to put on a football game (or, really, any other athletic event) in Berkeley on Friday night.

Obviously the most pressing concern is the safety of the athletes who will be running around for 4 hours on Friday. There’s also a concern with the 40,000 or so fans who would presumably try to attend. Walking up the hill to Memorial Stadium and sitting outside for 4 hours in poor air quality isn’t a great idea.

Would Cal and the Pac-12 consider delaying or even cancelling the game? That’s hard to say. I’m sure there’s a ton of pressure on Cal to put the game on, and it’s unclear what, if any, regulations or policies the conference might have to address this sort of problem. We can only hope that the powers that be exercise all due caution to protect the health of athletes and spectators both.

If you’re planning on attending the game, keep your ears open for news about any decisions, and exercise caution with your own health. We’ll update this post as news comes out.

And if you’re looking to help those impacted by these awful events, please check out this list of volunteer and donor opportunities.