Smoke saturates San Francisco skies


Antonio Maffei ’20

In these split screen photos taken from a drone over Thornton Beach in Daly City, Mount Davidson and Sutro Tower are clearly visibile on the left, but during the smoky days, on the right, visibilty was low.

Harrick Wu, Features Editor

On Nov. 8, the Bay Area was stuck between two forest fires: the Woolsey Fire in Los Angeles and Ventura County and Camp Fire in Butte County. These fires directly affected people near the fire and indirectly affected those hundreds of miles away, especially the Bay Area.

The Camp Fire is suspected to be caused by a high voltage power line of the Pacific Gas & Electric company. The fire spread rapidly and encompassed the cities of Paradise and Concow, destroying many homes. According to the Sheriff of Butte County, it is recorded that 85 people were killed by the fire and many are still missing.

Although this deadly fire affected many with homes nearby, the smoke that it created affected surrounding areas like San Francisco. The Air Quality Index hovered around unhealthy and very unhealthy, reaching its peak at 228 Particles (PM 2.5) on Nov. 23, causing schools to close for various days in the three weeks that the fire burned.

The smoke, bad enough to cause health effects, worried locals, leading to an increased amount of sales for N95, N100, and P100 respirator masks. These masks that help prevent harmful particles from entering the lungs, were sold out quickly. The fire especially affected the Archbishop Riordan High School community.

Along with the canceled classes on Nov. 16, the fire caused several band events to be canceled. The Vintage Band Review and the Fairfield Tournament of Champions were cancelled, preventing the Riordan band from showcasing their hard work over the past few months.

This angered many band members at Riordan and those from different schools, leading a musician to create a petition on to have the Fairfield Tournament of Champions moved to Nov. 24. However, it was without success.

In addition, the smoke prevented the selected band members from playing in the Riordan Bay Scholar Luncheon. John Paul Jacinto, this year’s Drum Major, said, “As a senior, it was very heartbreaking to learn that I was not going to be able to participate in our last two band reviews at Riordan. The band is very important to me as music is my passion. Regardless, we strive to improve every day and make the best of what we have left this year.”

Furthermore, the first junior retreat at CYO Camp-Occidental was ended early. Scheduled to be a three day retreat from Wednesday to Friday, the smoke proved unbearable for activities to take place, which caused the juniors to be bused back on Thursday evening.

Leonard Magnaye, House of Bolts Provincial and Campus Ministry As Provincial and Campus Ministry Assistant, said, “It is a shame that we had to cancel the last part of the retreat, because it is very difficult for us to make a decision when we know there is a set up to the retreat. You are at the climax and there’s a resolution happening in the evening and on the last day, which we weren’t able to fulfill.”

According to Alex Datoc, Director of Campus Ministry, the juniors will have two options: attend the next junior retreat or get credit of $110 for their Kairos Retreat next year. Many were pleased with this option.

“39 Steps,” Riordan’s first play of the year featuring students from Riordan, Mercy SF, and Immaculate Conception Academy, had to cancel two evening plays and one matinee. The matinee performance, however, had a make-up date on the following Tuesday evening.

Jalen Viray, the lead actor of “39 Steps,” said, “We worked really hard on the practices and rehearsals. It’s sad how our last few performances had to be canceled, because we’re all, the entire cast, excited to show how much hard work we went through. We were excited to show everyone. Because we didn’t get to do that, it was a bummer.”

Sports were also affected. Soccer tryouts and workouts were cancelled and had to be rescheduled for after Thanksgiving break. The Cross Country Central Coast Section Champions competition was also postponed twice and moved locations once, with the final decision to be at Toro Park in Salinas on Nov. 18. The fire was 100 percent contained on Nov. 25 with the rain playing a huge role in washing away the previous days’ negative effects.