Bay Area residents were met with a strange and frightening sight on Wednesday as wildfires once again rage throughout California.
All across the San Francisco area, a wild orange glow filled the sky. Some areas across the Bay even had ash falling from the sky as if it were snow.
The scene, 49ers coach Kyle Shanahan said after practice at their team facility in Santa Clara — which sits about 50 miles south of downtown San Francisco — was like nothing he’d ever seen before.
“We just got back in from walk-through and it’s orange out here, too,” Shanahan said on Wednesday, via ESPN. “I feel like I’m in ‘The Book of Eli.’
“It’s like an apocalyptic state out there.”
‘There’s ash falling all over the place’
There are 28 major wildfires burning across California as of Wednesday afternoon, which has forced more than 64,000 residents to evacuate their homes. Wildfires have already burned more than 2.5 million acres across the state, marking the worst year on record.
There are several major active fires just north of the Bay Area — including the Elkhorn, Claremont-Bear and Lnu Lightning Complex fires, which have burned more than 870,000 acres combined. The Czu Lightning Complex and Scu Lightning Complex fires are just south of the Bay Area, and have burned more than 480,000 acres combined, according to the Los Angeles Times.
Levi’s Stadium and the 49ers practice facility are not in immediate danger of any of the fires, though winds have sent smoke and ash their way.
Despite the threatening skies, however, Shanahan said that the air quality was fine. They have been tracking the air quality index over the past several weeks as the fires spread, and Wednesday was far from the worst they’ve seen.
"Surprisingly, the air quality doesn't seem as bad as it looks," Shanahan said, via ESPN. "A few weeks ago when we had it or last week, it got up, it got past 150 here for us. But, today when we were just out there 15 minutes ago, that air quality was at 69, I think, which isn't close to what it's been. It definitely looked different out there."
The NFL will prohibit teams from holding practices or games if the index climbs above 200.
The 49ers are set to open their season against the Arizona Cardinals at Levi’s Stadium on Sunday afternoon, something that is still on as scheduled. While practice went off without a hitch on Wednesday, both the 49ers and the league are sure to keep a close eye on the situation in the days to come.
"It's dark out there," 49ers quarterback Jimmy Garoppolo said, via ESPN. "It's not clouds. I mean, just with the smoke and everything, we just did a walk-through a little while ago and there's the ash falling all over the place.
“It's different, but [I] send best wishes to all the families out there that are dealing with it. It's tough times, and stay safe."
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