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Schools keep watchful eye on conditions as fires rage in Utah County

Worsening air quality continues to be a concern for student athletes

UTAH COUNTY (News4Utah) – The Pole Creek and Bald Mountain fires are having a big impact and forced the cancellation of one high school football game.

Although that cancellation wasn’t because of the air, it’s something other high schools are keeping a close eye on.

As other games continued there were concerns about student-athletes who took the field Friday night.

Normally a packed parking lot at Salem West High School means it is time for football, but Friday night the game against Corner Canyon was canceled. Those in the parking lot are evacuees.

The air was noticeably smoky in the distance, and experts are especially worried about its impact on people.

 “Smoke from wildfires. Not only is the particular size dangerous because it gets caught in your lungs. It tends to be full of more volatiles," said Kristy Weber, Department of Environmental Quality Meteorologist, Division of Air Quality.

Down the road in Payson it was green air quality by kickoff, so the game went as scheduled.
School officials say it’s something they’ll be keeping a close eye on before sporting events if the fire and bad air are a problem.

The bad air is especially concerning for athletes because of the heavy breathing during competition. That’s why coaches and trainers are keeping a close eye on the conditions.

For Payson High School Head Coach Derek Campbell, it was just one more thing to worry about for Homecoming.

 “We just have to play our game and pray that the wind blows it the other way,” said Campbell.

With the smoke not impacting his players tonight, his main concern was keeping them focused.

 “They just have to play a game and have an opportunity to go out and play and have fun and not worry about it,” said Campbell.

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