THOUSAND OAKS (CBSLA/AP) — Poor air quality from the wildfires burning in Ventura and Los Angeles counties has ground sports and TV productions to a halt.
The Los Angeles Rams decided not to practice outdoors Wednesday due to poor air quality around their training complex in Ventura County, where a wildfire has burned more than 90,000 acres.
The Rams (9-3) intend to work out on their fields as normal Thursday while they prepare for their showdown with the Philadelphia Eagles (10-2) at the Coliseum this weekend. However, that plan could change as the fire has grown and now approaches the community of Ojai on its eastern flank.
The Rams’ complex is about 25 miles from the blaze. The resulting smoke caused enough problems in air quality to persuade coach Sean McVay to skip practice in favor of a walk-through indoors at nearby Cal Lutheran University, even though the air improved markedly between Tuesday and Wednesday.
The Rams and their staff don’t have homes affected by the Ventura County fire, but they’re still eager to help out their neighbors.
Punter Johnny Hekker jumped into action during the players’ day off Tuesday when he heard about a Red Cross shelter at the Ventura County Fairgrounds in need of supplies. Hekker and his wife, Makayla, who is 6 1/2 months pregnant, ran to a store in nearby Newbury Park and bought a truckload of clothes, food and other products to be distributed among evacuees.
“Living in this community, we have to have each other’s backs,” Hekker said. “These people support us throughout the season and are big fans of us. If we can do anything with our platform to give back to them in this time of need, in this crisis, then that’s what we’re here for.”
If air conditions change overnight, the Rams could practice at the University of Southern California in downtown Los Angeles on Thursday.
Another fire is burning in the Bel Air neighborhood near Hollywood about 15 miles from the Coliseum. The Rams and the NFL don’t anticipate Sunday’s game being affected by the fires, but the proximity of the Skirball Fire prompted UCLA to cancel its Wednesday night football practice, a basketball game at Pauley Pavilion, and all afternoon and evening classes.
To the north, the Rye Fire in Santa Clarita forced production on “S.W.A.T.” and “Westworld.”
The air throughout Southern California has been visibly hazy due to the smoke and ash being blown about by strong winds that are also pushing the fires. A smoke advisory is in place across the San Fernando Valley, which is getting a double dose of smoke from the Thomas Fire and the Creek Fire burning above Sylmar and Sunland.
Health officials are advising especially vulnerable people — seniors, children, and people with respiratory or heart conditions — to stay indoors. The quality of the air has also forced the closure of hundreds of schools in both counties through the end of the week.
(© Copyright 2017 CBS Broadcasting Inc. All Rights Reserved. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)