|LT, other Chargers, Padres among wildfire evacuees; practice canceled|
|Written by Admin|
|Monday, 22 October 2007 11:31|
The Chargers, who had just returned from their bye weekend, canceled practice Monday. Players were dismissed so they could take care of their families and because the air quality was poor due to smoke, spokesman Bill Johnston said.
As of late Monday morning, wildfires fanned by fierce desert winds forced the evacuations of nearly 250,000 people in the county.
There was no immediate word if any Chargers employees had lost their homes. Many Chargers players, as well as other current and former pro athletes, live in Poway and other suburbs in northern San Diego County.
Trevor Hoffman, baseball's career saves leader, was among a handful of Padres personnel who had to evacuate.
Hoffman said he left his home in exclusive Rancho Santa Fe at about 6:30 a.m. and was heading north with his family.
``I'm just thinking about San Diego as a whole right now, being under siege by all these fires,'' Hoffman said by cell phone. ``I'm sure everybody is kind of doing due diligence as far as getting their families out.''
Tomlinson couldn't immediately be reached for comment. His mother, Loreane, said from Waco, Texas, that he called at 5 a.m. PDT and told her that he and his wife were looking for a hotel. ``I told him to keep me posted,'' Loreane Tomlinson said.
Center Nick Hardwick said players were asked at a team meeting to raise their hands if they were affected, ``and at one point, three-quarters of the room raised their hands. I guess a lot of guys live up there. There were some pretty long faces this morning. A lot of coaches and people upstairs have to deal with this.''
Hardwick lives in Point Loma, near the Pacific Ocean.
``It's pretty humbling, for sure,'' Hardwick said. ``You've got guys with families dealing with real situations. You don't normally expect that coming to work. Normally, the worst-case scenario is when you miss a block or something, but if your house is burning down and you have to get your family out of the city, that's a different issue.''
Hardwick said players heard there was a chance the team would practice at an out-of-town site, perhaps Phoenix, but nothing had been confirmed by the team.
Johnston and NFL spokesman Greg Aiello said it was too early to know if the fires will affect Sunday's scheduled home game against the Houston Texans at Qualcomm Stadium, where the parking lot was being used as an evacuation center.
``We are monitoring,'' Aiello said in an e-mail.
Four years ago to the week, the Chargers had to move a home Monday night game to Phoenix on short notice because the Qualcomm parking lot was being used as an evacuation center during deadly wildfires.
Tomlinson's business manager, Lamar Andrews, said he checked on the player at 5 a.m. and he and his wife had already left their home. Andrews said two other players he represents, safety Marlon McCree and linebacker Matt Wilhelm, also evacuated.
Bruce Bochy, the longtime Padres manager who just finished his first year as manager of the San Francisco Giants, lives in north Poway and said he heard about the fires while vacationing with his wife in Paris. Bochy, who left San Diego early Sunday morning, said he got several increasingly frantic text messages from his son, Greg, who was house-sitting.
``They made him evacuate the house,'' Bochy said by cell phone. ``I think it's still there. It's gotten some houses close to us, which is why he had to evacuate.''
Bochy also said he got a call from David Wells, asking if he'd lost his house. Wells, who was at his hunting ranch in Michigan, lives near Hoffman.
Agent Barry Axelrod, who represents several sports figures, was evacuated from his house in Escondido and was staying at the home of Rick Sutcliffe about a half-mile from the ocean.
``It's dark and smoky here,'' Axelrod said. ``I think we're all going to be fine.''
Axelrod said he got up before dawn and went with Kristen Nevin, wife of former big leaguer Phil Nevin, to retrieve the family's dogs from her mother's house in Rancho Bernardo, which was hard hit by fire. ``It's been a long day already,'' Axelrod said.
Phil Nevin was trying to get back from Cabo San Lucas, Mexico, Axelrod said.