Heavy smoke forces ASD to cancel outdoor activities for Aug. 20

Tuesday, August 20, 2019 - 15:55
  • At top, a woman looks out at Knik Arm from atop Mt. Baldy on Aug. 18. At bottom, the same summit view after smoke from the Swan Lake wildfire moved into the Anchorage and Eagle River area. (Star photos by Matt Tunseth)

It’s only the first day of school, but Alaska’s unpredictable weather has already caused its first cancellations of the year.

Due to heavy smoke from Southcentral wildfires, the Anchorage School District has cancelled all outdoor after-school activities for Tuesday, Sept. 20.

The cancellations impacted tennis matches that were scheduled to be held at West, South and Chugiak High as well as Begich Middle School. The district said activities could be moved indoors if possible and was leaving those decisions to individual schools and programs.

“Due to the air quality conditions, all after-school outdoor practices and competitions will be cancelled Tuesday, August 20.” the district said in an afternoon Facebook post. “If practices are able to move indoors, those practices may continue as schedule in their indoor location. In looking at the week ahead, we will continue to monitor wildfires and air quality. We will make decisions about outdoor practices and competitions on a day-by-day basis. Please contact your school for more specific information about your child’s after-school activity. Thank you.”

School officials are playing the situation by nose. A football game between Eagle River and Houston scheduled for Saturday may be moved to a different location, but officials at both schools said Tuesday that a decision won’t be made until Thursday.

Smoke was expected to remain heavy in the Anchorage area through the weekend due to the Swan Lake Fire on the Kenai Peninsula. As of Tuesday, the fire had burned 127,000 acres north of Skilak Lake between Sterling and Cooper Landing. Calmer, cooler conditions Tuesday allowed crews to slow the growth of the fire, according to updates posted by the Alaska Division of Forestry.

 

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