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Oregon Wildfires Can’t Stop The Gay Softball World Series

"Ash was everywhere. It was getting in our eyes, in your mouth, it was so hard to run."

Wildfires menacing Oregon have blanketed parts of metropolitan Portland in ash, leading to road closures, school closings, and hundreds of evacuations. A 16-square-mile fire east of the city grew rapidly on Monday, reportedly started by a teen playing with fireworks.

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The blaze—and poor air quality caused by the ash—threatened the Gay Softball World Series, taking place September 3 to 10 at Delta Park, Hood View Park, and Hillsboro Stadium.

“Ash was everywhere,” Anthony Fields told KPTV after checking out the fields on Tuesday. “It was getting in our eyes, in your mouth, it was so hard to run.”

A teammate reported seeing groundskeepers using leaf blowers to blow all the ash out of the dugout. “It was pretty gross.”

Some 185 teams are playing in the series, which celebrates its 40th anniversary this year. Chris Balton, commissioner of the North American Gay Amateur Athletic Alliance, conferred with medical experts and city officials before deciding the games must go on.

“We have paramedics at all fields across Portland. We had no incidences reported today, we had a breeze so it cleared up as you can see now no ash, great weather.”

Ironically, players traveling from Houston and Miami were fleeing natural disasters in their home towns, as well. “It’s not much better in Houston but we didn’t have the smoke,” said Charlie Harvey. “It made us question coming in because of the air quality and the smoke. But so far it’s pretty good.”

Some Florida players won’t be able to return home when the series is over because of Irma. Fortunately, host hotels have offered to extend group rates to those waylaid by the hurricane.

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