BERKELEY, Calif. – From the top of Memorial Stadium in Berkeley, one can usually see through to the San Francisco Bay and city skyline that rests behind it. A thick cloud of smoke is impeding that view on Friday night.
Wildfires in Northern California’s wine country had destroyed more than 6,000 homes as of Friday evening and the debris from those burns infiltrated the Bay Area all week. Officials from the Pac-12 Conference and the University of California, Berkeley monitored the situation in the days leading up to Friday’s game between Cal and Washington State, but determined the air was clean enough to play football.
“Student-athlete safety and the safety of fans attending the game and workers operating on-site continues to drive the decision making for the Conference and our institutions,” the Pac-12 said in a statement late Friday afternoon. “UC Berkeley is working closely with the Bay Area Air Quality Management District to monitor local conditions and forecasts, as well as with the university medical personnel to monitor and assess the situation.
“The conditions will continue to be monitored through game time.”
According to NCAA parameters, the Air Quality Index has to be measured at 200 or higher before a game might be delayed or cancelled. The AQI in Berkeley shifted multiple times on gameday. It was measured at 123 on Friday morning, but reached as high as 177 by 3 p.m. The AQI dropped back down to 159 by 6 on Friday night.