Instead of players prepping for a big game, the football field at Cle Elum-Roslyn High School is filled only with haze.
“Crazy – it’s kind of almost like a ghost town but yet full of smoke,” Teena Warne of Thorne.
The mother of two drives her son to practice and usually watches from the sideline, but today she is waiting in her car, as her son heads inside for football practice because of the unhealthy air.
“When you’re standing in the middle of a camp fire and the smoke is hitting you in the face – it’s kind of what it’s like, except you can’t get away from it,” Warne said.
The Jolly Mountain Fire has burned more than 20,000 acres and more than 700 people are fighting the flames. Late Tuesday, Cle Elum-Roslyn School District changed the start of classes from Wednesday to next Monday, September 11.
The Kittitas County Emergency Operations leaders requested the school district to delay the start, according to Superintendent Gary Wargo. That way, emergency crews do not need to worry about reuniting students with their families should an evacuation happen during the day.
About a dozen students and school staff members who live north of Ronald have already been evacuated. Cle Elum remains at level one evacuation.
The school district decided to allow already scheduled high school sports practices to go on, as long as students condition indoors.
“We don't want the kids outdoors just because of the air quality. Kids with asthma, different things like that. It’s difficult to breathe,” Cle Elum-Roslyn High School principal Brett Simpson said.
Simpson says the school district has dealt with snow and smaller fires but “nothing like this.”
“It’s not ideal for our sports teams to practice football indoors, but we’re making the best of the situation and the cards that were dealt,” Simpson said.
Students seemed excited by the idea of starting classes a few days later. However, they may not be so happy about it come June. District leaders say the cancelled classes will be treated like snow days and students may have to make up for them at the end of the school year.