Zach Brazell noticed the smoke over the canyon near his house while driving home one night this fall. He realized there were too many cars on the road and too much traffic coming out of his neighborhood for the late hour.
His foothills community is large - about 1,000 homes - and it sits minutes from a national forest. Everyone seemed to be outside and packing their cars.
"It was 8 or 9 o'clock and we were like 'what's happening? There's so many cars,'" Brazell said.
Brazell, a 16-year-old offensive tackle for the El Dorado High School Cougars, was one of three players evacuated because of the King Fire this fall during the team's 10-0 season.
The King Fire burned 97,717 acres, changing how faculty in all four of El Dorado Union High School District's schools thought of athletics.