Raiders cut short practice because of California wildfires

Thursday, 12 October 2017, 10:32:31 PM. But not before they played 'Smoke on the Water' over the loudspeakers, which seems like a bad song choice.

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Wildfires in Northern California have caused widespread devastation and poor air quality. (EPA photo)

Wildfires in Northern California have killed at least 23 people — a number that’s expected to grow, perhaps significantly — and destroyed 3,500 homes and businesses in Sonoma, Napa, Mendocino and Yuba counties.

The Oakland Raiders made note of this devastation by playing Deep Purple’s “Smoke on the Water” over their loudspeakers at the start of practice Wednesday, according to the San Francisco Chronicle’s Al Saracevic.

Inappropriate song choices aside, the Raiders had to cut short their practice by 30 minutes on Wednesday because of the air quality. The team, which does not have an indoor practice facility, also said it was moving up Thursday’s practice from 1:45 p.m. to 11 a.m.

“You definitely could smell it. We’ll see. They asked us about how we feel,” running back Jalen Richard told Saracevic.

The Raiders’ practice facility is located in Alameda, about 40 miles from the heart of the wildfires. The Environmental Protection Agency described the air as “unhealthy” near the area of the team’s headquarters, according to the Associated Press. The Raiders have donated $450,000 toward relief efforts and, along with the 49ers, Athletics, Giants, Warriors, Sharks and Earthquakes, set up a website for fans to make their own donations.

The Raiders hold their annual training camp in Napa.

“My heart really goes out to the families,” quarterback Derek Carr told the AP. “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.”

Oakland hosts the Los Angeles Chargers on Sunday afternoon, and so far there’s been no word that the NFL is worried about it being played. In 2003, wildfires in the San Diego area forced the Chargers to move a game against the Dolphins to Tempe, Ariz., as the parking lot at their home stadium had been transformed into an evacuation area for those forced out of their homes.

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