Players from the WA Bellevue Blast Gold were driving back to the Burbank Airport from the Lancaster Oktoberfest and were now thinking ahead to next week’s America’s Finest City Showcase in San Diego. The local radio station was reporting wild fires spreading through Malibu in LA County. As the plane departed Burbank, the huge fire line and plumes of smoke were visible below.

By the time the team landed back in Seattle, all national news media were reporting wildfires had spread across Orange and San Diego Counties, with one of the largest and most destructive fires hitting Rancho Bernardo. Thousands of people had already been evacuated from the path of the fire. Blast families contacted relatives in Southern California and quickly learned that the tournament’s main fields were right in the path of that fire. Within 48 hours, Tournament Director Andy Anderson notified all teams that the tournament was to be postponed.

Blast players immediately cancelled plane and hotel reservations, but couldn’t stop there. “We need to help them … and quickly,” said 18 Gold Head Coach, Bree Lewis, “our host teams need our support.”

Bellevue Blast rallied its 10 team organization and took up collections from each of its teams. Parents posted donation requests on the ASA message boards. Over the next few days, parents set up collection points and gathered bags of clothing, boxes of emergencies supplies, toiletries, food, blankets, and hundreds of dollars of cash donations. All these donations were immediately shipped down to the American Red Cross and American Medial Response in San Diego in the names of the San Diego Renegades and the Cruisers. “Blast players also designed hand made t-shirts for the host team, San Diego Renegade Gold players as a small token of our support,” said Coach Lewis.

Since the showcase tournament was postponed, Andy Anderson and his committee have tentatively planned to reschedule the tournament for mid-January 2008. “We plan to be there. We hope the San Diego softball teams are all safe,” said Blast shortstop Alix VanZandt.