Wildfire smoke could affect high school football plans

Air quality in Bend is currently listed as 'very unhealthy'

A high school football team practices in the summer heat, August 28, 2017 (KOIN)
A high school football team practices in the summer heat, August 28, 2017 (KOIN)

PORTLAND, Ore. (KOIN) — High school football is back in Oregon this weekend, but poor air quality means some games could possibly be rescheduled or even cancelled.

Central High School in Independence is scheduled to play at Bend High School this Friday, but Bend’s air quality, currently listed as “very unhealthy” on the index chart, is forcing their head coach to consider a change.

Bend was listed as "hazardous" air quality, according to the DEQ, as of Wednesday afternoon (DEQ).
Bend was listed as having “very unhealthy” air quality, according to the DEQ, as of Wednesday afternoon (DEQ).

“Talking to a couple community people there, they weren’t even able to go outside,” said Shane Hedrick, the athletic director and head coach at Central. “So it’s a real concern over there, the air quality.

Bend was listed as "hazardous" air quality, according to the DEQ, as of Wednesday afternoon (DEQ).
Bend was listed as having “very unhealthy” air quality, according to the DEQ, as of Wednesday afternoon (DEQ).

“This is one here that’s a first for us,” he said.

Currently, two dozen Oregon wildfires — including the Chetco Bar fire, which as of Tuesday night had burned 125,271 acres — are burning at a size larger than half the state of Rhode Island. The blazes have had a direct affect on air quality across the state.

In Bend, the hazardous air quality has had an affect on all athletic activities.

“Yesterday we moved inside about a quarter of the way through some of our outdoor practices,” said Bend Athletic Director Dave Williams.

Hedrick has already thought of contingency plans if the two teams can’t play in Bend. One option is to move the game Central’s Panthers Stadium.