Calif. Wildfires Put Chargers in Limbo

The San Diego Chargers don't know where or when they'll play their next game. San Diego State would rather not play its game Saturday.

The weekend seems months away as more than a dozen wildfires continue to rage in cities from the Mexican border north past Los Angeles and play havoc with the lives of hundreds of thousands of people.

California Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger said Tuesday more than 300,000 people have been evacuated and some 8,000 of those people had sought refuge at Qualcomm Stadium, home to the Chargers and San Diego State's Aztecs. Up to 1,000 homes have been destroyed and the governor said that 1,500 more homes remain in danger.

"If you're told to evacuate, evacuate. Safety is the most important thing," Schwarzenegger said, according to ABC News. There have been two confirmed deaths and 34 people have been seriously injured, The Associated Press reports.

While they spent Monday taking care of their families and trying to find out if their homes survived the wildfires, the Chargers were busy Tuesday preparing to fly to Phoenix to practice at the Arizona Cardinals' suburban headquarters.

Katz: No Other Choice

With firefighters en route with orders to evacuate, San Diego State basketball coach Steve Fisher and his wife had about an hour to gather some belongings and leave their home. They're riding out the fires in a hotel. Blog

Meanwhile, San Diego State coach Chuck Long said both schools' athletics directors and officials from the Mountain West Conference would discuss whether it's prudent to play Saturday's game against BYU at Qualcomm. A decision will be made by 6 p.m. ET.

"I'm actually pushing for a postponement if we can," Long said during an interview on "College Football Live" on ESPN. "There's just so much going on in this city right now and the fires that it's hard to think about a football game at this point.

"The air quality is so bad that you can't practice. You can't breathe if you go outside for any length of time."

For the Chargers, the present means three days of hotels and bus rides and an unfamiliar workplace while wondering what's going on back home.

"Obviously how we handle that will have an impact on how it turns out on Sunday," quarterback Philip Rivers said.

It's a drill that's familiar to some team members.

Four years ago to the week, the Chargers were forced to move a Monday night game to Tempe, Ariz., on short notice because of deadly wildfires.

The Chargers are scheduled to host the Houston Texans on Sunday afternoon at Qualcomm Stadium. But, as it was four years ago, the stadium is being used as an evacuation center. On Tuesday morning, there were about 10,000 evacuees at Qualcomm, and smoke hovered over stadium in early afternoon.

Qualcomm is in Mission Valley, northeast of downtown and out of harm's way. The league, which is holding owners meetings in Philadelphia, is debating what to do. In 2003, the NFL was sensitive to the fact that the stadium served as an evacuation center.

The Cardinals have a bye Sunday, and their stadium, located in Glendale, is scheduled to host a motorcycle show Friday through Sunday afternoon.

"They'll figure out a time for us to play the football game," Houston coach Gary Kubiak said. "You're concerned for those people in California in those fires. I've been through that in Denver and that's a horrible thing, so you just keep them in your prayers and we'll figure out what to do with the football game."

Rivers and reigning NFL MVP LaDainian Tomlinson were among the 40 players, coaches and staff members who were forced out of their homes by fires that started on Sunday.

"It was scary," Rivers said. "A lot of us haven't experienced it. A lot of us were not here in 2003. It's such an unknown, too. You don't know what it's doing."

Rivers said his wife talked him into leaving their suburban home before the evacuation orders came in.

"It was crazy," he said. "It was so windy and so ashy and so smelly about midnight that we went ahead and got out of there then,'' said Rivers, the father of three young girls. He said he heard from Tomlinson and tight end Antonio Gates at about 4:30 a.m. Monday that they were leaving their homes.

The Chargers canceled practice on Monday so players and coaches could take care of the families and find a place to stay if they'd been forced out of their homes, and because the smoky air was unhealthy.

The team planned to leave for Phoenix late Tuesday afternoon, and practice at the Cardinals' headquarters on Wednesday, Thursday and Friday.

"The truth of the matter is we do have a game Sunday, who knows where, and we've got to get ready for that," Rivers said.

Meanwhile, sources told Golf World on Tuesday that Phil Mickelson's wife, Amy, and the family's three children evacuated from their Rancho Santa Fe home on Monday while Mickelson was playing in a corporate outing at Baltusrol Golf Club in Springfield, N.J. Mickelson flew home immediately afterward to join his family in their San Diego beach house.

Information from The Associated Press was used in this report.