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Wildfire smoke delays some high school football games, moves others to new locations

Data graph from a measuring site at Amazon Park shows particulate matter concentrations spiked Friday morning. The pollutin from wildfire smoke increased as the day went on. (SBG)

EUGENE, Ore. - Wildfire smoke pushed air quality to "unhealthy" levels in Eugene and Springfield on Friday, triggering an air quality advisory in effect until Sunday.

The air quality prompted schools to scramble to either reschedule or relocate football games.

That includes the much anticipated 6A showdown between of West Salem and Sheldon.

Both teams are 2-0 and could be contenders in the post-season given the level of talent on the field.

For now, the game originally scheduled for 7 p.m. at Sheldon High School has been postponed until Saturday night. The Eugene 4J School District said the game's location has yet to be determined.

Churchill High School will host Ashland at Cottage Grove High School instead of in Eugene.

Many school officials are taking a wait and watch approach. For example, North Eugene is scheduled to play at Thurston High School in Springfield at 7 p.m. Thurston will determine whether the game goes on or is delayed or relocated, the Eugene district said.

Football staff at Thurston said they planned to check the air quality at 4:30 p.m. If levels of PM 2.5 - the tiny pollution from smoke that can be a hazard to health - are below 115, the teams will play as scheduled. The Unhealth level for PM 2.5 starts at 150; at 115, air quality is considered "Unhealthy for Sensitive Groups."

But if PM 2.5 is over 115, Thurston plans to delay the game an hour and check again at 5:30 p.m. If air quality remains unhealthy, the game will be postponed.

Others have both changed the day and location of the game. South Eugene's game against North Medford will be both postponed and relocated: the teams now intend to meet in Medford at 7 p.m. on Saturday.

Springfield and Eagle Point are now scheduled to play at 8 p.m. Friday at South Albany High School. But Springfield staff plan to check air quality this afternoon; if it's OK, the game will go on as planned in Springfield. If it remains unhealthy, the teams will head for Albany to play.

DEVELOPING STORY | This story will be updated

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